The Entangled Infrastructures of International Student Migration: Lessons from Covid-19

Raghuram, Parvati and Sondhi, Gunjan (2022). The Entangled Infrastructures of International Student Migration: Lessons from Covid-19. In: Triandafyllidou, Anna ed. Migration and Pandemics. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, pp. 167–184.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-81210-2_9

Abstract

The impact of Covid-19 on international student mobility has been noted by policy makers and the media ever since the global lockdowns started in early 2020. However, most of the concerns focus on what the drop in student mobility means for the finances of the countries and educational institutions to which students would have moved; there has been little exploration of the students’ own experiences of Covid-19. This chapter explores the entangled education, migration, and finance infrastructures that shape international student migration and how they failed the students during the pandemic. It draws on questionnaires and interviews conducted with international student migrants from a range of countries and who are registered to study in the UK to point to how migration policies, consular services, educational institutions, and travel industry all affected students. It points to how these components are entangled, and that their failure during the pandemic led to particular forms of immobility and mobility, leaving many students stuck in uncertain and precarious situations. The chapter ends by suggesting that reading the pandemic as an acute unprecedented event is important but inadequate. It is also a window into the everyday failures that the entangled infrastructures of international student mobility posed before Covid-19, how these came to be and who benefited from these infrastructures.

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