The New Politics of Global Academic Mobility and Migration

by Fred Dervin (Volume editor) Regis Machart (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 158 Pages
Series: Education beyond Borders, Volume 2


This book brings together recent research on Global Academic Mobility and Migration (GAMM) from a variety of perspectives and contexts. There is now a widespread consensus that most countries and world regions are witnessing GAMM. Bringing together leading scholars from Australasia and Europe, this volume offers readers detailed account of the new politics of such acts of mobility and migration. The following key issues are dealt with: mobility determinants, social injustice, management and administrative problems, as well as teaching–learning challenges. The book invites students, researchers and practitioners to reflect further on the nature of today’s education on the move.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction: Global Academic Mobility and Migration – Between Reality and Fantasy
  • An ever-booming field of study
  • Beyond figures and praise?
  • Media discourses on mobility: a British example
  • Researchers’ interests
  • About the volume
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Why do Students Move? An Analysis of Mobility Determinants Among Italian Students
  • Introduction
  • 1. Intra-European student mobility
  • 2. Who goes abroad? A literature review
  • 2.1 Socio-economic status
  • 2.2 Family
  • 2.3 Peers
  • 2.4 Previous experiences abroad
  • 2.5 Personal considerations
  • 3. Methodology
  • 3.1 A mixed-method approach
  • 3.2 Quantitative data and analysis
  • 3.3 Qualitative data
  • 4. Results
  • 4.1 The importance of social networks and personal biographies
  • 4.2 Going abroad as a strategy to improve chances in the labour market
  • 4.3 Finance as a major barrier to mobility
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • The Erasmus Programme: Achievements, Inequalities and Prospects – An Overall Approach
  • Introduction
  • 1. Summary of the method of enquiry (Ballatore, 2010)
  • 2. Multiplication of support measures and research on mobility
  • 3. A programme that does not challenge imbalances and inequalities
  • 4. A comfortable and conformist Erasmus “bubble”?
  • 5. Unequal opportunities for young European skilled workers
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • The Dynamics of Brain-Drain and Brain-Gain: Depreciation of Foreign Diploma
  • A detailed reasoning
  • 1. Background and previous literature
  • 2. The Slovak problem
  • 3. Recognition of diplomas in the Slovak Republic
  • 4. Other variables
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • The Shifting Boundaries of the Academic Profession in Malaysia: A Comparative Perspective
  • Introduction
  • 1. Theoretical background
  • 2. Obstacles to academic mobility
  • 2.1 Individual staff
  • 2.2 Institution
  • 3. Methodology
  • 4. Analysis of results from the CAP study
  • 4.1 Personal background of respondents in CAP study
  • 4.2 Teaching in a foreign language
  • 4.3 Career and professional situation
  • 4.4 Research
  • 4.5 Management issues
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgement
  • References
  • “Talking Just About Learning Languages and Getting To Know Cultures is Something That’s Mentioned in Very Many Applications”: Student and Staff Imaginaries About Study Abroad
  • Introduction
  • 1. Imaginaries: A central notion to approach the effects of student mobility?
  • 2. About the study
  • 3. Findings
  • 3.1 Common beliefs about time abroad
  • 3.1.1 A dream place
  • 3.1.2 A new me and life
  • 3.1.3 A career boost
  • 3.1.4 A ‘must’ for my generation
  • 3.2 Do staff share similar imaginaries?
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Inter-Campus Exchange as Specific Study Abroad in Australia, Malaysia and South Africa
  • Key indicators of academic mobility in Australia
  • 1. Study Abroad and intercultural competence
  • 2. Inter-Campus Exchange (ICE), a specific type of study abroad program
  • 2.1 Design of the survey
  • 2.2 Participants
  • 3. Pre-departure questionnaire
  • 4. Questionnaire for students returning from ICE programs
  • 5. Advantages and disadvantages of ICE for pre-departing and returning students
  • 6. Intercultural experience and cross-cultural competence
  • Recommendations and concluding remarks
  • References
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Writing Challenges Faced by International Students in Academic Writing
  • Introduction
  • 1. Review of literature
  • 2. Methodology
  • 3. Results and discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

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Fred Dervin & Regis Machart

Introduction: Global Academic Mobility and Migration – Between Reality and Fantasy

‘Mobility’ is all the rage in the academy too. Universities – in all corners of the globe – are busy scoping, planning and advertising mobility programmes, as an essential component of academics’ and students’ learning experience, whilst governments and regional bodies around the world are promoting mobility as crucial to learning in the new global economy. The world is on the move, and if it is not, it ought to be – at least if we take the policy rhetoric seriously.

(Robertson, 2010, p. 641)

An ever-booming field of study

Most volumes on academic and student mobility will start by reminding their readers that research on this phenomenon is scarce. In 2014 this assertion is not valid any longer. The last few years have witnessed an upsurge in the publication of volumes and journal issues on the topic (Gürüz, 2011; Brooks, Fuller & Waters, 2012; Erlich, 2012; Feyen & Krzaklewska, 2013; Kinginger, 2013; Huang, Finkelstein & Rostan, 2013; Machart & Dervin, 2014a; Van Mol, 2014; Gerhards Hans & Carlson, 2014, etc.). The Journal of International Mobility was set up in 2012 as well as a book series published with Peter Lang, entitled Education Beyond Borders. Since 2012 many conferences and seminars have taken place around the world: ICAMM 3 (organised by the editors of this volume in Malaysia in July 2012); a conference in French at the Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in December 2012; Challenges of the International Mobility of the Highly Skilled in the 21st century (Barcelona, Spain, February 2013); Residence Abroad, Social Networks and Second Language Learning (Southampton, UK, April 2013), and more recently Mainz University (Germany) organised a conference on Academic Mobility – Challenges of Internationalization (June 2014) and the University of Bologna a conference entitled Teaching the Intercultural in Contexts of Student Mobility. In July 2015 the conference Culture of Study Abroad will take place in Halifax (Canada).

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when it was easy to keep ‘control’ of what was happening in relation to Academic Mobility and Migration in academia. This era is definitely over. It is now obvious that the quantum jump ← 7 | 8 → that “the field of academic mobility and migration” would witness as predicted by Kehm and Teichler (2007) or Dervin and Byram (2008) has already taken place. Yet it is a confused, confusing and multi-voiced move that seems to reflect more complex societal phenomena. In his article entitled “The Subprime” market and international higher education, Philip G. Altbach (2013), Director of the Center for International Higher Education in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, ventures an interesting comparison between the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 which triggered repeated recessions around the world, and what is happening in higher education in relation to internationalisation. For the scholar, the current worldwide situation is between that of an ‘irrational exuberance’ and a ‘bubble’. Starting from this interesting analysis, this volume adopts a critical perspective towards academic mobility and migration. The authors contribute to reviewing some of the commonsensical and neo-liberal discourses on internationalisation and mobility/migration in the 21st century – giving a more realistic snapshot. They thus concentrate on what we call ‘the new politics of Academic Mobility and Migration’.

Beyond figures and praise?

We could continue this introduction by reviewing – yet again – the “impressive” figures of internationalisation (see e.g. Kandiko & Weyers, 2013). But actually these figures are not as imposing as they could/should be in our era of accelerated globalisation. For example, J. P. Lassegard (2013) discusses the case of Japanese students whose number has declined steadily since the mid-2000s. The success of academic mobility is sold by institutions and supra-national entities such as the EU but let us bear in mind that only 2% of the world student population is able to move and that even amongst movers not everyone has the same opportunities in terms of length, programme and destination. We could also ‘worship’ naively mobile individuals and remain uncritical towards their experiences of mobility. Yet many scholars have demonstrated that mobility can do very little to unsettle and/or change mobile students and/or academics… or even be a real asset on their CVs.

One of the latest interesting changes and additions to academic and student mobility/migration is the fact that traditional destination countries (“Western” countries to take a shortcut) are increasingly overtaken by education hubs such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. As such, in 2010, 86,900 international students were registered in Malaysia (Ministry of Higher Education, 2011) and the government is planning to attract 200,000 by 2020, generating 2 billion ringgits (650 million US dollars) (MySinchiew, July 2012). The emphasis is largely on Muslim students (Machart & Dervin, 2014b) and in ← 8 | 9 → 2009, the Malaysian Minister of Higher Education explained in Dubai: “We’re providing access to our higher education, places in our universities, because we believe that this is one way of contributing towards the development of our fellow Muslim countries” (Bernama, 2009). Many chapters examine the context of Malaysia in this book. The current shift in world powers is slowly showing in relation to academic mobility and migration too.

Media discourses on mobility: a British example

To our knowledge few publications on academic mobility and migration have looked into how the media deal with this specific type of mobility – a voice always interesting to take into account (Maffesoli & Strohl, 2014). As any volume on academic mobility and migration represents a snapshot of an era – things evolve quickly – we would like to listen to what the media have reported about internationalisation recently before turning to some latest research. This represents an attempt to reduce the chasm between what we researchers work on and what the media discuss. We are well aware that taking the UK as an example will earn us the reputation of being Eurocentric, yet we are ready to take the risk as this European country has been one of the motors of academic and student mobility/migration for many decades. In 2013 alone the UK had the second largest cohort of foreign students of any OECD country…

The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, reported regularly about internationalisation in the first two quarters of 2014.

 The year opened with an article written by the Director of education at British Council India (23.1) about his worries concerning the 25% reduction of Indian students recruited to the UK. He blamed the government’s reforms especially in relation to work during study but also high cost.

 On 31.1 an article reported on the fact that all Romanian and Bulgarian students were not entitled to receive fees and maintenance support from the UK government any more. Interestingly, The Guardian notes, “The move coincided with increasingly hostile rhetoric about the anticipated influx of ‘beggars and benefits cheats’ from the two countries when working restrictions to Britain were lifted on 1 January (2014)”.

 The next story run by the paper (4.2) deals with international students celebrating cultural festivals in the UK through the testimony of a Vietnamese student celebrating the Lunar New Year in England. The student writes: “This was my first Tet (Lunar New Year) away from home, and it passed with a coldness – not only because of the weather, but rising up from inside, from my soul and my heart. Tet this year was the feeling of trying not to burst into ← 9 | 10 → tears when talking to my parents on video chat, it was the struggle not to say ‘I’m sad, I miss Vietnam’ when seeing my friends from home getting excited about Tet, and it was hiding my homesickness in front of British friends and my homestay family”.

 Around 10 days later the newspaper published a piece by someone “working in a British university” who described the “folly of the British government’s policy towards foreign students”. His words were harsh towards the government: “Stupid. Incoherent. Short-sighted. Cack-handed. Intrusive. Counter-productive”. The author criticises as such the amalgam between ‘international students’ and ‘immigrants’ that emerged from PM Cameron’s 2010 promise to reduce net migration.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (December)
Wanderungsbewegungen soziale Gerechtigkeit interkulturelle Erziehung
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 158 pp.

Biographical notes

Fred Dervin (Volume editor) Regis Machart (Volume editor)

Fred Dervin is Professor of Multicultural Education at the University of Helsinki. He also holds other positions in Canada, China, Luxemburg and Malaysia. Regis Machart is Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages at Universiti Putra Malaysia.


Title: The New Politics of Global Academic Mobility and Migration