Inward student mobility and the transformations of higher education systems in France and the UK since the 1920s

26th April 2022 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: Vincent Carpentier, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Audience: Public

Student mobility is shaped by a long history of struggles. In recent times, key developments such as the 2008 crisis, increasing geopolitical tensions, and Covid-19 have revealed the vulnerability of HE systems and questioned their dynamics of internationalisation. In a context characterised by increasing inequalities within and between countries and the overarching environmental threat, international student mobility is doubly affected by a crisis of the current form of globalisation and a crisis of the funding of HE systems both revealed by the 2008 downturn and unresolved since then.

In this seminar, I propose to explore some of these tensions in the contexts of France and the UK. Beyond specific historical trajectories, both countries share similarities in terms of wealth, population and as ex-colonial powers. Their internationalisation policies also tend to be connected to similar debates. For instance, in the UK, where international fees were introduced in 1967, tensions recurrently arise between immigration, geopolitical, and income generation rationales. In France, the recent introduction of international fees for non-EU students in universities was heavily debated with many commentators questioning its impact on social justice at the global level but also at home with concerns that this might represent a reinforcement of the marketisation of the university sector.

Drawing on historical statistical data, I propose to look back at these questions by comparing and contrasting the historical trends, patterns and structures of funding, expansion and differentiation of HE systems to those of inward student mobility since the 1920s. I will focus on the expansion, intensity and transformation of student mobility. I will consider the historical layers of rationales which have driven or constrained student mobility. I also propose to reflect on how changes and continuities in student mobility have shaped and were shaped by the transformations of HE systems and their institutional differentiation. I will then consider some of the implications regarding the question of inequalities at national and global levels.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).