CGHE series on international and global higher education – seminar 3: International mobility and comparative education

16th January 2020 : 12:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Higher Education

Speaker: Rachel Brooks (University College London) and Ariane de Gayardon (UCL Institute of Education)

Location: Room 102, 26 Bedford Way, UCL Institute of Education

About the CGHE Seminar series on international and global higher education


What is the international or global space in higher education and how do we understand it? Scholar-researchers apply a range of disciplinary lenses and methods. Geography plays a key role in many but not all studies of student mobility or global science. Others analyse these dynamics through an economic or policy studies or linguistic frame. Some are hunting for an elusive universal perspective, others are very mindful of national or cultural differences. Some are especially attentive to the challenges facing education in emerging countries. Some look for signs of their own country everywhere they look, others are fascinated by what they see as foreign exotica, others are post-colonial. Many who research ‘internationalisation’ as student mobility and other cross-border connections, or work on ‘global competences’, don’t necessarily research comparative education in a rigorous manner, or take account of the literature on development education. The interesting and productive differences between an ‘international’, ‘comparative’ and a ‘global’ perspective are rarely discussed.

These differences shape the contents and impacts of higher education research and scholarship. The contrary knowledge produced in this field shapes our global imagining in fragmented ways – but perhaps this is a fruitful diversity? Or should we work to develop a common view? This series will explore six different approaches to imagining and investigating international higher education, highlighting similarities and differences between them, and drawing the participant audience into active discussion.


Seminar Abstract

Constructing the ‘international’ space in studies of international student mobility

Rachel Brooks

While many studies of the cross-border mobility of students for higher education have, ostensibly, been international in focus, they have often tended to focus on particular parts of the world. Likely informed by researchers’ own geographical locations, such studies have typically foregrounded East to West mobility – contending that the majority of this movement has been driven by the emergence of a new middle class in Asia and the corporatisation of universities in the Global North. Similarly, within much extant research, mobile students are often positioned as transnational actors, familiar with international travel and comfortable operating across different cultural contexts. This paper draws out some of the implications of this way of understanding international student mobility, noting the relative neglect of engagement with relevant bodies of work on comparative education and within development studies. It also, however, argues that a more nuanced view of mobile students is emerging, which pays attention to diversification in both the geography of cross-border movement and the social characteristics of the individuals involved.


The state of comparative higher education

Ariane de Gayardon

This presentation will give an update of the state of comparative higher education today. It will discuss the importance of the field in a world that continues to globalize and where international competition has become prevalent – driving national and institutional strategies. At the same time, it will reveal the paradox of comparing systems whose missions and designs are culturally, historically and socially embedded, addressing the still unresolved contradiction between global and local in the 70-year old comparative higher education research field. Finally, this presentation will question whether comparative higher education really is a research field of its own standing.

All seminars are free and open to the public. No advance booking required.


About the Departmement of Education


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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