Having worked in higher education for 16 years, Dr Peter Hatherley-Greene is well acquainted with the difficulties experienced by his students, especially in the first few weeks and months at university, confronted by faculty from different cultures, speaking a language they learned in a few hours each week at school.
For many students Dr Peter observed over the years, the experience of making the cultural border crossing appeared to be simply too much, the experience too alien, too raw, too different.
After many years of academic preparation, Dr Peter Hatherley-Greene began a year of full-time active research and investigation into the cultural border crossing experiences faced by young male Arabs as they made the transition from high school to a college of higher education.
His PhD thesis, awarded in February 2013, was described by one of his examiners: “I commend the candidate for a fine thesis. It provides a most comprehensive description of the setting and the problems of Arab youth in transitioning to higher education. Overall, I got the impression that the candidate knows the setting and the subject very well.”
The key findings of his research may be found in an academic paper published on the Al Qasimi Foundation website.
In summary, Dr Peter found four categories of border crossing experience among his research sample – smooth, managed, difficult, and impossible (renamed as ‘doubtful’ for the BCI). Students in the ‘difficult’ or ‘doubtful’ categories invariably never finished their first year.
He found that the congruency or agreement between the pre-dominantly Arabic life-world associated with families, community and government schooling, and the largely dominant Western/English language culture in institutes and universities of higher education was broadly related to the students’ self-perceived level of preparedness for academic study and the competence of the students in their second language, English.
After several published peer-reviewed academic papers, national and international conference presentations, and a published book, Dr Peter has established his own Nationalisation company, Emarise, to provide support to both the Arab youth and the private sector which has been encouraged by national leadership to provide future employment opportunities across the MENA region.
The Border Crossing Index questionnaire is a result of his rigorous research and deep knowledge of Arab youth. It has been validated by an Arab student focus group at a local university in May 2017 who positively commented on its veracity and solidity.
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