Liam Detering

HDR student

Liam is researching the effect of national reputation on the motivations of international students in choosing a host country study destination.

He is particularly interested in the Australia-India relationship, and as such his thesis will be a framed as a historical case study between the two nations. It utilises an interdisciplinary approach between International Relations and History in an attempt to understand the historical dimension of international education exchanges between the two countries. Liam’s research will consist of interviews with past, present and prospective Indian students, as well as key government and industry figures. These interviews aim to give voice to a previously underrepresented cohort in the literature on international education, the students themselves.

This research will aim to contribute to a growing body of public diplomacy literature that advances the importance of maintaining a good national reputation internationally. It will aim to test the effectiveness of these government programs, utilising qualitative interviews with students themselves to enrich the current body of literature.

  • What first sparked your interest in your field and how has that interest led you to your topic of research?

    Prior to starting my Master’s in International Relations, I spent four years teaching English overseas in South Korea. While engaged in this work, I began volunteering with the Australia New Zealand Association of Korea, an organisation linked with the Australian Embassy. This volunteering opened my eyes to the value of public diplomacy and soft power initiatives and the value they have in contributing to Australia’s reputation internationally. For my master’s thesis, I investigated the motivations of Indian international students in choosing to study higher education abroad. I see my current PhD thesis as a continuation of this work.

    Following on from my thesis, I hope to use my HDR experience either working in an international education setting at a university or in some capacity within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

  • You are stuck on a desert island with four books. Three are related to your field/area and one isn’t. Which books do you bring with you?

    British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, Intercolonial Relations and the Empire – Kama Maclean

    The Long, Slow Death of White Australia – Gwenda Tavan

    Gods & Politicians – Bruce Grant


    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (Marvin is one of my favourite literary characters of all time)

  • You are having a dinner party and can invite three guests from your field/area. Who do you invite?

    Sir Iven Mackay – Australia’s first High Commissioner to India

    John McCarthy – Australian High Commissioner to India (2004-2009)

    Sir Percy Spender – particularly for his role in the creation of the Colombo Plan

  • Writing is a big part in the HDR process. Do you have any rituals that help you get in the writing mood/vibe/mindset?

    I don’t have any particular rituals, but I like to block out time during the day to do things unrelated to my writing – whether it be going for a walk, reading an unrelated book or preparing for teaching. This allows me the chance to clearly focus on my thesis when I sit down to write. When it’s time to write, I like to have earphones in with some relaxing music playing (either Lo-fi or Jazz) and just get in the writing zone. As I get distracted easily, I like being able to block out the outside world and focus all my energy on the document open in front of me.

  • If you could research another area/field/topic outside of your current area/field/topic, what would you research?

    Australian sport – especially cricket or football. I have an obscene amount of my bookshelf devoted to sporting history books and biographies!

  • What do you do to relax and unwind after a long day of research/writing?

    During the week I like to unwind by cooking and then either curling up on the couch to watch some TV or read a book. On weekends, I love getting outdoors for a hike or meeting up with friends to check out new bars or go to gigs (I’m a sucker for single malt scotch!). I also have to have a few hours set aside to watch my two loves, the mighty Brisbane Lions and Liverpool Football Club.

  • What has been the highlight of your candidature so far?

    Still being very much at the beginning of my candidature, the highlights so far have mainly been in attending the weekly CHRG seminars! It has been a pleasure listening to different experts talk about their research subjects and get an insight into how to present to an audience of peers.

Australian Policy
 and History

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