International student migration: mapping the field and new research agendas

King, Russell and Raghuram, Parvati (2013). International student migration: mapping the field and new research agendas. Population, Space and Place, 19(2) pp. 127–137.



Despite rapid growth in the student component of global migration flows, the study of international student migration/mobility (ISM) is a relatively neglected field in migration research. This special issue helps to address this lacuna. This introductory paper highlights the contradictions between international students as ‘desired’ because of their internationalism and fee contributions, and as ‘unwanted’ because of the politics of migration control especially in the context of the securitisation of study in the post 9/11 scenario. It argues that interrogating the terms ‘international’ and ‘students’ is critical to addressing the slipperiness that underlies these contradictions. Focusing on students per se ignores their multiple roles, as family members, actual or potential workers, or perhaps refugees and asylum-seekers, while definitions of international students ignore the diversity of study that students undertake. After summarising the papers that follow, this paper concludes with an agenda for future research on ISM: greater theoretical insight drawing on the cognate field of mobility studies; more in-depth ethnographic research on mobile students who recognise their multiple roles in knowledge diffusion and social reproduction; further research on ISM datasets and quantitative surveys, which employs statistical analysis; more attention paid to gender and race as they relate to ISM; and a stronger link to pedagogy and systems of higher education and knowledge production.

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