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Department of Education

Research projects

International Student Mobility and World Development

This project uses numerical and narrative data to examine the links between international student mobility and world development since the early 1960s.

Globally, the number of internationally mobile students increased from 0.3 million in 1963 to 2 million in 2000 and more than 6 million in 2019. Mobile students represent a group of migrants who depart from the familiar to the unknown. Crossing borders involves acquiring new knowledge and being exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking.

International student mobility is a vibrant area of studies in social sciences. The bulk of the existing literature revolves around individual and institutional decision-making and their implications for student mobility. Studying abroad can be transformative in terms of developing student migrants’ knowledge and skills, social and professional networks, and civic consciousness. Studying abroad can also have an impact on student migrants’ understanding of who they are, what they want to become, and how they see their role in society. Institutional and national contexts can influence the ways in which international higher education experiences impact on internationally mobile students.

Migrant returnees can contribute to societal development in various ways throughout their lifetime. Some of these contributions are shaped by their experiences of educational, social, and civic formation while studying abroad. The existing scarce literature, including the work of the Principal Investigator of this project, offers preliminary evidence on the ways in which the implications of studying abroad can go beyond the individual.

This research project examines empirically allusive and theoretically complex links between student mobility and their home countries’ development. It covers all six regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East and Northern Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. The project offers macro-level modelling of the links between student flows and national development indicators since the 1960s. At the same time, the project provides a nuanced analysis of how international higher education has impacted on the formation of leaders around the world and how leaders explain the connections between their international education experiences and their societal contributions. Thus, this project aims to advance the empirical and conceptual understanding of the potential of international higher education for transforming societies.

The research project covers all six regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East and Northern Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere.

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