Sitting Comfortably? Exploring Asian Aspirations and Professional Identity

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The dental profession has recently undergone a number of radical changes, most notably with the introduction of the dental contract, which debuted in April 2006. Such a dynamic shift has been met with mixed responses and questions are currently being raised surrounding the professional and personal values of newly qualified dentists (The Patients’ Association, 2008).

In turn, concerns are raised about levels of preparedness within higher education. As a community of educators, it is important for us to realise the ambitions of those we train to be professionals as we are somewhat responsible for instilling a sense of proficiency within them (Macfarlane, 2004). According to the higher education statistics agency, (HESA, 2006/07), predominantly large numbers of those studying to become dentists are of South Asian heritage and female. It is suggested that culture, in its broadest sense, has a significant impact upon their notion of professional identity.

Preliminary research is presented in this paper which highlights the aspirations of a sample group of dental students, from the South Asian community with respect to their profession. Initial findings reflect the discussions introduced by Bordieu (1984) on cultural capital and moreover its prevalent influence in terms of making professional choices.


Keywords: British-Asian Students, Professional Values, Cultural Identity, Higher Education
Stream: Equity, Social Justice and Social Change; Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Deesha Chadha

Lecturer in Higher Education, King's Learning Institute, King's College London
London, UK

I joined King's Learning Institute in 2004, gaining my PhD in 2005 from the University of Surrey. I contribute to the academic programmes within the Institute and is currently programme leader on the Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (GCAP) programme. My current research interests are in engineering education, ethnicity in education and curriculum design and development.

Ref: L09P0681