World class? An investigation of globalisation, difference and international student mobility


Education has been widely accepted as going beyond the imparting of formal knowledge. Some view education as being a social entitlement and replica of social difference, which is notably significant in higher education (HE). Therefore, many welfare states have made effort to enhance access to HE through meritocratic means and widening participation strategies. While some argued that this can decrease differential access to universities by widening the market, and reduce the need for an overseas education, thereby leading to a decline in international student mobility; reality has proved otherwise. In fact, student migration has increased in recent years, contributing to one of the major forms of modern international mobility.

This paper sheds light on longer-term ‘degree mobility’, characterised as the pursuit of a university degree abroad. Although the number of foreign students studying in the UK still outweighs the number of UK students pursuing a higher education abroad, the numbers are not insignificant. They may be the reason to the rise of one of the many ‘new mobilities’ responsible for reshaping the modern society. However, one can counterclaim that international student mobility constitutes a critical means of aggravating social difference within the globalising higher education system.

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Join us in the upcoming QS in conversation seminar, where we gather prominent academics in discussion of “University Rankings and International Migrant Scholars” held from 7-9 Feb 2018 in London, UK.