Research Programme

Dynamics and policy implications of changes in student mobility

Allan Findlay, Jane Falkingham, David McCollum, Laura Prazeres

(with Nikola Sander, Gunnar Malmberg and Zaiga Krisjane)


Project summary

Student mobility is not new, but its scale and significance is very different now from in the past. In the UK, arguably, no other form of mobility has been so strongly influenced by recent policy changes (student visas, the introduction of higher HEI fees in England).

This research investigates inward-bound international student mobility (ISM) as an empirical lens to examine the wider issue of how globally-linked lives intersect through mobility (and immobility) in relation to economic, social and cultural processes and constraints. Student mobility (SM) between the four nations of the UK will also be studied to capture the effects of uneven regional policies on student fees.

Key question: ‘How is the production of student migration best explained?’ Key policy question: ‘What future trends in ISM to the UK and SM between the parts of the UK can be expected, given government policy on ISM and university fees?

The primary focus is on ISM to the UK, but comparisons will be sought with a) Austria and Sweden (as two other significant intra-EU destinations of ISM), and b) Ireland and Latvia (locations sending students to the UK for very different reasons). 


Project activities

Date Activity Description
13-14 October 2016 International Workshop on International Student Migration and Mobility: Policy Perspectives Allan Findlay presented the keynote paper "The Importance of Context in Framing Conceptualisations of Student Mobility."
18-20 July 2016 International Conference on Geographies of Migration and Mobility, Loughborough, UK Papers presented by Laura Prazeres: "Leaving the ‘comfort zone’: international student mobility and the imaginative geographies of the Global South" and "‘It was always the plan’: international study as ‘learning to migrate’" co-authored by Alan Findlay.
8-10 September 2015 British Society for Population Studies Conference Census & Administrative data Longitudinal Studies Hub (CALLS Hub) conference poster
27-29 August 2015 Royal Geographical Society-IBG Annual International Conference Abstract accepted on 'In search of distinction: mobile students and the ‘placing’ of educational trajectories'
18-22 August 2015 International Geographical Union Regional Conference Abstract accepted on 'Immigration, Scotland and the constitutional change debate: Geography, difference and the question of scale'
22 May 2015 Preliminary project planning meeting All team members were in attendance, including Maarten Van Ham (Delft University of Technology), Gunnar Malmberg (Umeå University, Sweden) and Nikola Sander (Vienna Institute of Demography).




Findlay, A., King, R. and Stam, A. (2016) ‘Producing Internaitonal Student Migration: An Exploration of the Role of Marketization in Shaping International Study Opportunities.’ In Van Reimsdijk, M. and Wang, Q (eds.) Rethinking International Skilled MigrationRoutledge, Chapter 2, 19-35.

Findlay, A., McCollum, D. and Packwood, H. (2017) Marketization, marketing and the production of international student migration. International Migration, 55 (3), 139-155.

Findlay, A., Prazeres, L., McCollum, D. and Packwood, H. (2017) It was always the plan: international study as ‘learning to migrate.’ Area, 49 (2), 192-199.

Prazeres, L. and Findlay, A. (2017) An audit of international student mobility to the UK. ESRC Centre for Population Change Working Paper Number 82, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK.

Prazeres, L., Findlay, A., McCollum, D., Sander, N., Musil, E., Krisjane, Z. and Apsite-Berina, E. (2017) Distinctive and comparative places: Alternative narratives of distinction within international student mobility. Geoforum, 80, 114-122.

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Media activities

Examining the case for union – borders and immigration
The Future of the UK and Scotland blog, 24 April 2014

You can also browse population-related articles from CPC members on our! page.