Educational migration: Youth, time and transformation

Education related mobility has been one of the fastest growing forms of migration in recent years. The number of international students has grown from two to five million in the first two decades of the 21st century alongside increasing mobility of academic staff and the development of new transnational delivery models for education. The geographies of education migration have tended to be characterised by movement of students from Asian nations towards the west, a pattern that speaks to the value associated with western education, the English language and the experiences of travel. While an East-West directionality remains dominant, there is growing diversification in the places students come from and go to, as well as the socio-economic backgrounds of students themselves. These changing patterns speak to core concerns of academic scholarship on student mobility, which have placed significant emphasis on overseas education as a form of “cultural capital”, on the “value” of university credentials and the social networks formed at elite institutions. Other more critical questions have also emerged about how student mobility articulates with conceptions of youth, the cultivation of desire for education and the possibilities for transformation that are generated and blocked in migration for education. All of these concerns relate to questions of reproduction, how young people and their families envisage their futures, the role of education and migration in the enhancement of livelihoods, and the formation of intimate relations with others through migration.