The changing map of international student mobility

Michael A. Peters, Stephanie Hollings, Man Zhang, Eric Atta Quainoo, Hejia Wang, Yingying Huang, Shuchen Zhou, Amina Laimeche, Jasmin Omary Chunga, Zhihong Ren, Sphiwe Wezzie Khomera, Wener Zheng, Rulin Xu, Chunxiao Mou, Benjamin Green
closeup photo of globe

Michael A. Peters , Stephanie Hollings , Man Zhang , Eric Atta Quainoo , Hejia Wang , Yingying Huang, Shuchen Zhou, Amina Laimeche, Jasmin Omary Chunga , Zhihong Ren, Sphiwe Wezzie Khomera , Wener Zheng , Rulin Xu, Chunxiao Mou , Benjamin Green 

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China



This article presents 14 essays following a prompt on the changing map of international student mobility through three disruptions, namely Brexit, America First and COVID-19. These essays written by postgraduate students at Beijing Normal University were collected during the Spring semester of 2020 and edited by Stephanie Hollings and Zhang Man under the supervision of Professor Michael Peters. The 14 texts, written in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight the many factors and faces of the changing map of international student mobility from 14 different perspectives. The world map is a key aspect of these essays as it is not only important as a geographical concept but as a discourse of knowledge, power, identity and ideas that will be reflected in each student’s interpretation of international student mobility. Each student draws on their own diverse background and lived experiences, some as Chinese students and some as international students in China, to give light to these disruptions through the eyes of ‘globally mobile’ students, making an important contribution to global discussions on international student mobility. These students, reflecting on being in the midst of a pandemic spreading across the world map, imagine the future post-COVID-19 and how that will interplay with the other two major student mobility disruptions of recent years (Brexit and America First) to impact international student mobility, international education, the ever-changing map of international student mobility and the discourse that comes from that changing map.



COVID-19; America First; Brexit; international student mobility; international education


Introduction (Stephanie Hollings & Zhang Man)

Maps are social constructions that have been used throughout history from the ancient Greeks, Romans and Han Dynasty Chinese (Wood, 1992). Foucault (1978) expressed that ‘power is everywhere, not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere’ (p. 93). With this understanding of power from Foucault, maps and what maps choose to tell their readers can be seen as a discourse of power. Likewise, truth is produced through power and power is only exercised by producing truth (Foucault, 1980). Accordingly, maps can be said to create a realm of truth. Harley (1989) describes this as ‘cartographic discourse’ in which maps are modes of communication and are thus locations and representations of power. For this, first, he draws upon Derrida’s ‘rhetoricity of all texts’ to include maps. Second, Harley builds on Foucault’s critique of knowledge and the omnipresence of knowledge to describe how that knowledge is imbedded and communicated in maps.

While maps and their focuses have changed throughout history, what has not is the understanding that maps are a form of knowledge, a discourse of power and a language that communicates ideas and identity to the map reader, as they are constructed for specific purposes. A map is contingent on history, space, identity, environment and culture. Maps themselves create a knowledge. They can be used for philosophers as intellectual tools (Hellenistic Greece), as religious tools (mappae mundi in Medieval Europe), as weapons of war (Napoleon) or for propaganda (Nazi Germany) (Jacob, 1996). One of the most prominent maps is the Mercator Projection which has had a long-lasting influence on Western culture. The projection, introduced in 1569, came to represent the dominant Western view in which Western countries were shown in a size dominating Southern countries. For example, Greenland appeared larger in size than South America. Also, Alaska was shown about equal in size to Brazil despite being 1/3 the size (Henrikson, 1994; Wood, 1992). In 1973, Arno Peters introduced a new map, later named the Gall-Peters projection, in which the projection would lay emphasis on the South in an attempt to show decolonization and anticolonization (Wood, 1992). These two maps show the power that maps have to convey a message. By understanding the power of maps much light can be shed on subjects seemingly removed from geography, such as international student mobility (ISM). The map of ISM is constantly changing as increasingly more students are choosing to be mobile, more countries choose to turn from exporters to importers of ISM and more countries continue to rely on ISM. Thus, how we learn to read that map must adapt alongside.

ISM has never been stronger, as progressively more students chose to partake in education abroad, the map does not stay static. While ISM is not usually seen in terms of a physical map, such as the mappae mundi, it still follows the same principles. The map of ISM is subject to change based on new environments, changing policies and culture, history of domination in ISM (explaining in part how the USA and UK remain the most popular destinations) and innumerable other factors. The ISM map is constantly unsettled by disruptions and new players. Some may even argue that the Mercatorized version of ISM (dominated by the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK) is giving way to a more Gall-Peters projection with countries like China becoming more popular. This will be an important concept to this paper.

This paper, understanding the power and discourse of maps to represent a now, uses the prompt of the changing map of ISM within three prominent and timely disruptions – Brexit, America First and COVID-19 – to reveal the thoughts of 14 individuals on the past, present and future of the ISM map and how that is reflected in an understanding of what is international education and its true purpose. Each individual was given free rein to interpret and answer the prompt how they best saw fit. What started as a homework assignment bloomed into a paper manifesting different interpretations and voices (sometimes seemingly conflicted), highlighting diverse aspects of ISM and how they are impacting the ISM map.

Written during the time of potentially one of the greatest modern disruptions to ISM, COVID-19, this series of 14 essays was authored by a group of young ‘mobile students’, exploring their lived experiences as students in China, both Chinese and international students, and their imagining of the post-COVID world and how that will impact both international education and ISM. Numerous aspects of ISM and international education will be discussed within these essays including: peace education, global citizenship, liberal internationalism, push and pull factors, waves and disruptions. It was thus decided by the two editors (Stephanie Hollings and Zhang Man) to separate this paper into three sections.

The first section, on the changing factors and conditions of ISM, features four students focusing on different factors, i.e. competition, massification, policy environment and policy discourse. All of these factors have proven to have distinct impacts on this ever-changing ISM map, affecting changing environments and policies, among others. The second section is made up of those students who chose to tackle the prompt head on and will thus be featuring essays on the changing map of ISM in relation to Brexit, America First and COVID-19. As the majority of the students wrote within this category, a large range of ideas and knowledge will be shown as these young scholars ponder on these three major disruptions, their fluctuating effects on ISM, the true purpose behind international education and how they, as consumers of international education and student mobility, interpret them through their own experiences. The last section features the thoughts of one student, who looks at the disruptions through new dimensions of ISM, namely a turn to online education through the limitations on student mobility caused by COVID-19. What this essay seems to acknowledge is the idea of digital student mobility and its possibility for the future of ISM.

While somewhat unusual in format, this article allows for a larger range of perspectives as it collects the voices and understandings of those with first-hand experiences of ISM. As noted by Benjamin Green in the conclusion of this paper, this allows for a more subaltern perception of ISM. The diversity of the community of people that wrote the individual essays contained within this paper permit for numerous interpretations of the truth, power and knowledge showcased by the changing map of ISM. This creates a richer and more holistic investigation of the issues caused by this ever-changing map. The thoughts and opinions provided here offer a collective knowledge on ISM, noting the importance of ISM to the global economy and how that is reflected in the constantly shifting realities of the ISM map. Moreover, the underlying optimistic message of these essays is based on the idea of a new ISM map that marks a return to the humanitarian aspects of international education, a return to hospitality, global citizenship and a common destiny of mankind.

The changing factors and conditions of international student mobility: Competition, massification, policy environment and policy discourse

Higher education and student mobility under conditions of increasing competition (Eric Atta Quainoo)

The European Parliament and Council (2006) explains ISM as ‘a period of learning abroad (formal and non-formal), or mobility undertaken by individual young people or adults, for the purposes of formal and non-formal learning and for their personal and professional development’ (p. 8). Rivza and Teichler (2007) states that it is interesting to note that the ambitious reforms in Europe for creating a European Higher Education Area by 2010, notably through a convergent system of levels of study programmes and degrees but also through various other accompanying reforms, were called for primarily because they were expected to extend and strengthen student mobility. To him, the Bologna Declaration of 1999 called for these reforms primarily in order to increase the attractiveness of higher education in European countries for students from outside Europe, as well as in order to facilitate intra-European student mobility.

Rosenzweig (2006) proposes that students migrate, not because they cannot acquire the desired skills in their country of origin, but instead because the return for their skills at home is relatively low. In fact, he found that higher enrolment rates in source countries led to higher rates of student out-migration. To buttress this, Lowell and Khadka (2011) showed that although the increasingly stringent visa policies implemented in the US as a consequence of 9/11 somewhat deterred student immigration, the recession of 2001 probably had a greater negative impact.

The quality of education can also affect inward student mobility and is usually based on two indicators from the position of the students (OECD, 2011). First, the reputation of the higher education institution in their home country which is built up mainly through the position of the institution in international rankings. The second indicator is the recognition of the degree in the international labor market (Park, 2009). While the degree recognition is formally governed by national legislation, nevertheless, in the labor market, the value of the degree is not immune from the influence of the reputation and standing of the degree-awarding higher education institution (Park, 2009).

Rivza and Teichler (2007) emphasize that the more student mobility occurs in a competitive environment among institutions of higher education, and the more diverse vertically and possibly horizontally the study provisions become, the higher the concern grows about the ‘quality’ or the ‘qualities’ provided. He continues by mentioning that even the strongest advocates for competition in higher education, as a mechanism of stimulating quality, do not trust market regulation as successfully assuring quality to mobile students (Rivza & Teichler, 2007). As Rivza and Teichler (2007) note, the efforts to increase competition in higher education do not consistently connate the readiness to promote student mobility. It is thus obvious that competition is a strong driver with respect to student mobility. It is also evident that the conditions for this competition vary substantially in Europe from country to country and between individual institutions, and national policies in Europe continue to differ strikingly in the extent to which they provide support, set incentives and regulate student mobility (Rivza & Teichler, 2007).

In conclusion, it could be deduced that the increasing mobility of students, who are choosing international education for a myriad of reasons raises the question as to how it will affect higher education programs of countries in terms of competition. As countries increasingly benefit from further student mobility, presumably the competition to attract and retain students will continue to increase alongside as universities find new ways to make themselves more competitive in the market. It can thus be said that in all likelihood expanding student mobility will generate a higher amount of competition among higher education institutions which will cause them to invest more in education as the countries continue to compete to attract more foreign students.

Massification as a drive to student mobility and the consequence of inequality (Hejia Wang)

Nations worldwide have implemented laws of massification in higher education (HE) resulting in a drastic expansion in enrollment. The implications of such policy measures are huge. While the word massification originates from a trend started in the late 1990s in China after the 1999 Ministry of Education policy, ‘Action Plan for the Revitalization of Education in the 21st Century (面向21世纪教育振兴行动计划)’, the overall concept of massification can be seen as an apparent drive to international student mobility, albeit the fact that different nations have entered the massification game throughout various times. The United States experienced the first stage of massive HE in the 1920s, the European countries after the Second World War and Asian countries quickly followed the lead.

After massification, HE quality is examined in a different narrative from elite entitlement to massive rights, causing many then to question the drop of HE quality. Inequality is a headache when the public demands higher education as a public right, not so much as a private gain. Subsequently, government and personal contribution to higher education is under debate. As government funding changes into subsidies in the Western societies, fee paying international students and private sectors became a more predominate target for expensive national higher education systems.

At the same time, from the 1990s the new technological revolution keeps enhancing globalization on various fronts, which provides timely and convenient channels for large bodies of ISM. The increased international academic collaboration and increased shared knowledge and understanding provides backgrounds for the increased pull for ISM, championed by the forerunners of universities leading the rankings. Thanks to their international prestige and renowned reputation, these universities are also the leader in ISM. In growing economies like China, where more financial resources are available to the public, families pride themselves in sending their children to the U.S. Ivy League universities and to elite British institutions, like Cambridge and Oxford, even overshadowing their zealousness of sending their children to first tier Chinese institutions, like Tsinghua and Peking University. However, such access shadows inequality as the cost is far beyond the reach of ordinary families.

Depending on the country, access to HE expands from about 5% to over 50% (Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2013) and this opens up HE to students from a large and diverse range of social classes and socio-economic backgrounds. This enlarged access means the requirement for more facilities and also greater potential for overcrowded classrooms, stagnated academic salaries and poorer learning environments. As more students are enrolled, the accreditation and qualification system demands subsequent updates, and the updates are not yet satisfactory. Access also channels to the labor market, where post-secondary education is now a starting point as demanded by employers who are facing increasingly intensive competition. Overall, access means a greater portion of students from a variety of backgrounds are expected to enter post-secondary education institutions with dissatisfactory accreditation systems, learning in deteriorating environments and facing increasingly intensive competition from an enlarging graduate body with elite students who continue to enjoy rich resources.

Student mobility shaped by the policy environment (Yingying Huang)

Student mobility/ISM is a key approach to understanding international education. It can be said that ISM has experienced three waves which were defined by key events and trends. The first wave being defined by the terrorist attacks of 2001; the second by the global financial recession; and the third by the slowdown in the Chinese economy, the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union (EU) and the American election of President Trump (Choudaha, 2017). Therefore, it is obvious that student mobility has been embedded in the grid of the global landscape in relation to situations of economics, politics, cultures, languages, etc. That is to say, student mobility is not just concerned with the realm of education itself, but is also a major aspect of the whole strategy for a country or even a region. For instance, improving student mobility is a core goal of the European Higher Education Area. It is also a major policy priority of the EU agenda for modernizing higher education with the aim of developing Europe’s skilled labor force in order to strengthen its position as a knowledge-based economy (Barrioluengo & Flisi, 2017).

As with the EU, student mobility has been regarded as an opportunity for many countries to attract the brightest and most talented youth. In that regard, this policy environment deserves more attention in the student mobility conversation. While these bright and talented students are enhancing their knowledge and competence abroad, some may choose to permanently settle in the host country, whereas others may feel pull factors to eventually return home. It can also be noted in terms of policy environment, that particularly hostile policies could easily deter student mobility by creating a misleading categorization of students based on assumptions about their country of origin. This would essentially create a binary category of international students – those who are deemed as undesirable and risky and those who are considered to be the opposite (Lomer, 2018).

As for the two traditional destination countries for students studying abroad, the United Kingdom and the United States, they have played a great role in making the situation more uncertain as a result of some troubling events from recent years, i.e. the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration (Rose-Redwood & Rose-Redwood, 2017) and the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU. Meanwhile, major exporting countries of international students like Turkey and China are trying their hand at attracting more international students with proactive policies, projects and efforts from their governmental departments.

Taking a deeper look into Turkey (one of the world’s most powerful Muslim nations, bridged between Europe and Asia), it has been predicted that it will become the Middle East’s dominant regional country for ISM (Friedman, 2009). Turkey appears to be an emerging and promising target country for international students, particularly for those in Europe. The Turkish government, understanding the interplay between Brexit and Turkey’s own policies and attitudes regarding international students, has utilized scholarships as a way to increase international students. The aim of which is to ensure that by 2023, the number of international students will increase by over 20,000, thereby raising the total number to over 200,000 (Öğrenciler, 2019). These complementary policies between the United Kingdom and Turkey have allowed Turkey to make obvious progress in easing the mobility of international students. This is displayed in the rising number of receiving international students from Europe from 11,107 to 17,174 during 2016-2017. In direct contrast, the United Kingdom experienced a decline from 141,263 to 138,859 during the same period (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2020).

In sum, policy environment is able to exert a great influence on the international student experience through the regulations or laws. Thus, it remains to reason that the policy environment will continue to play a key role in shaping ISM as it is likely the deciding factors in student’s ISM decision-making process.

Policy discourse and international student mobility (Shuchen Zhou)

Global student mobility is growing. Studying abroad as a material tool for the knowledge economy and global mobility not only directly promotes the increase of national monetary resources, it also influences the political agenda (Knight, 2004). Often, a host country’s policies and booming economy have attracted international students to certain countries. However, due to changes in host countries’ political and economic development and international public emergencies, there have repeatedly been changes in sufficient attractiveness. This can hinder the possibility of mobility.

Strong discourse can change ideas, actions and limit knowledge (Rose & Miller, 2008). With that in mind, it is easy to say that not all international education is founded on an equal basis, as education is rooted in the uneven sphere of global power (Marginson, 2008). From the terrorism in the early 2000s, to the recent global financial crisis, to the current stage of global competition, it can be said that ISM is in its third wave (Choudaha, 2017). This wave of ISM will be directly transformed by three events – America First, Brexit and COVID-19.

The United States is still the most popular country for studying abroad, with the largest source of students coming from China (UNESCO, 2020). However, the most popular destinations have hindered international student mobility through the tightening of visa policies and increase in racial discrimination. There is also an increasing number of restrictions in the fields that international students can study, particularly in the science majors, as a way to safeguard national interests against defense research (Joske, 2019). Although there is little empirical evidence that national policies to attract international students affect mobility (Lomer, 2018), the investment and income of education are some of the variables that affect the international student flow. Education quality, academic reputation, multilateral certification of education and international level education guarantees are also important influencing factors that cannot be ignored (Ma & Cheng, 2018). Furthermore, the strong anti-immigration tone of events in the United States and the United Kingdom have a negative impact on students’ sense of security, availability of post-graduation work and immigration opportunities (Najar & Saul, 2016).

For example, from a geopolitical perspective, whether the EU is a concept or an actual national alliance in operation, the size and influence of the EU will decrease after Brexit (Ben, 2016). Brexit can be seen as the will of the British people (Lusher, 2019). Brexit can be seen as the will of the British people (Lusher, 2019) and thus the outcome of an effective democratic system. Yet, Brexit must also be seen as a policy. As a policy it can be understood as a discourse (Ball, 1993), including the rationale, values, actions and normative positions taken by the state and its accompanying institutions (Rose & Miller, 2008). When it comes to international student mobility, especially in a post-COVID-19 world, the realities of tuition fees, visas, immigration policies, academic standards, and now even health care become topics of concern, especially in countries like the United Kingdom as an outcome of Brexit. These realities will have to be faced alongside issues, such as ethnicity, educational equity, dialogue and tolerance. What this might create with EU students in the United Kingdom is a local and international distinction. Thus, seemingly creating a series of contradictions in mobility. International education is therefore rife with internal and external tensions at this unpredictable time.

Despite national efforts in many countries, especially those like China, Japan and South Korea, who are trying to become more popular as host countries, towards preferential education policies, private higher education institutions, many of which are for-profit or semi-profit, have become the fastest growing industry in the world. The private sector operates on a commercial model by absorbing demand, and students are seen as consumers who are simply purchasing knowledge in a global marketplace. When neoliberal governance introduces the free market into education, making market mechanisms and neo-managerialism the idea, it means that those in power use efficiency, freedom, international competitiveness and social contribution to create a discourse that shapes the perceptions, active recognition and even the support of society at large. As a result, international education may point to a deeper gap between rich and poor, more insidious cultural colonization and a more volatile world landscape (Wang & Chen, 2015). This is a great deviation from international education’s original values.

The education landscape is changing. Knowledge has become an educational product under the global chain. As we rethink education post COVID-19, digital informatics has changed the form and density of knowledge exchange and flow. International students are seemingly no longer welcoming standardised knowledge in the form of a McDonald’s set meal consisting of a burger, fries and a Coke (Cambridge, 2012). Thus, it must be said that policy discourse has and will continue to have distinct implications on ISM.

The changing map of international student mobility: Brexit, America First, COVID-19

The 2020 changing map of international student mobility (Amina Laimeche) 

The changing map of ISM in higher education in 2020 has been profoundly affected due to the shift of the socio-political and socio-economic landscapes in the recent few years. Added to these shifts is the current COVID-19 outbreak, which has further augmented tremendous pressure on education.

The changes have been set off due to changing economic and social-political factors in various countries throughout the world, and the pace of technology, combined with the new era of Trump’s governance, the groundhog day fatigue of Brexit and the rise of the Asian middle class. These disruptions, commingled with globalization, have created an unpredictable shift in international higher education (Choudaha, 2017). Furthermore, as 2020 has come rushing in with a new dynamism in changing geopolitical and socioeconomic factors, an influence on ISM in the current period is firmly developing. Although international education will remain a popular option in higher education, the direction and the demands of international students will continue to face intense change (Riaño et al., 2018).

These changes result in a confluence of factors that affect ISM’s growth and sustainability. One such factor is the lowering prospect of work in some major destinations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, for international students. Policy changes and job market complexities can actively dissuade many international students from being attracted to study in those two countries. Likewise, federal budget cuts have resulted in education institutions needing to recover their costs by raising tuition fees and increasing the numbers of international students (MacGregor, 2019).

ISM can be characterized in three waves, namely what can be deemed past, semi-present and present/future. The first wave from 2000 to 2008 was influenced by the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The second wave, from 2008 to 2016, was shaped by the global recession. The third wave, from 2016 onwards, is influenced by the geopolitical order and new policies of anti-immigration (Choudaha, 2017). Undeniably, these impacts have led to a decline in international enrollments. In the United States alone, reports predict a more than 10 percent reduction in university enrollments by the end of 2020 due to the demographic problem change (The Power of International Education, 2019).

Meanwhile, the rapid rise of Canada, Australia and Asian countries in the higher education market has a distinct influence on the shifting and changing patterns of mobility. One of these new markets is the increasingly popular destination of China. Chinas has emerged as one of the top destinations for English-taught degrees, especially as it is a less expensive study option in comparison to other popular European and Asian higher education destinations. It has quickly become a favorite destination for overseas students from Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries, as can be seen from the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China’s (2019) Statistical Report on International Students in China for 2018. Thus, a new dimension of ISM flow has emerged, not just in China but all throughout Asia. The massive investments and financial aid offered by emerging Asian destinations such as China, South Korea and Singapore have led their institutions to an unprecedented rise in global rankings, which could be seen as a threat to Western higher education ISM dominance (MacGregor, 2019).

Yet, the present wave is not over being influenced. This can be seen by the current situation of the COVID-19 outbreak and the dramatic effect it has already had on the entire world. COVID-19 will have an obvious influence on the constantly swinging pendulum that is ISM and will have unique political and geographic outcomes. Indeed, this outbreak’s impact on academic mobility has been and will continue to be a subject of extensive conversation in the future (Rumbley, 2020), especially in terms of this present wave of ISM.

International student mobility: The factors affecting a changing map (Jasmin Chunga)

The 21st century, with its global way of living, has resulted in a growth in ISM. Riaño and Piguet (2016) highlight this growth using statistics from 2000 and 2012, in which international students in higher education expanded from 2 million to 4.5 million. There are ever-increasing factors contributing to students’ desire to study abroad, from gaining new experiences, to skills and career aspirations. With this, there is an ever-changing student mobility map with increasingly more direction changes.

The Brexit decision in the United Kingdom has led some potential international students to ponder on the stability of choosing a course in the United Kingdom, as the dominant political ideology of the country in terms of foreigners/foreign students is changing. With Brexit, there is the potential for higher tuition fees and seemingly decreasing potential for temporary or permanent employment in the United Kingdom post-graduation. This is especially significant to EU students. With the growing limited freedom of movement, decreasing possibility for post-graduation work opportunities, and stricter policies and visa rules, many international students have turned their prospects to other countries as they have begun to view the United Kingdom as less welcoming to international students (Falkingham et al., 2018). While this is obviously not a blanket statement for all international students, it can be seen that policies and ideologies have a high level of attraction for many international students, who value the capacity for what can be considered economic security.

What Brexit highlights is the changing map of ISM. This map, which was once mostly focused on English speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, is now becoming increasingly diverse with the intensification of competition and connectivity. Nowadays, there is an upturn in international students in Asian countries, like China and Japan. This is due in part to a competitive market in terms of technology, political stability and economic status increasing in said Asian countries (Shields, 2013). Taking a deeper look into the internationalization process of Chinese higher education and its substantial growth in recent years, it is easily seen as a by-product of the Belt and Road Initiative. The robust goals of the initiative to promote interconnectivity through people-to-people bonds, education, trade and cultural exchanges (Peters et al., 2020) can be fulfilled within this internationalization of Chinese higher education. This is a crucial point of that changing map of ISM as now students who choose China to study in have increasing opportunities to not only gain knowledge and skills through education but through social-cultural interactions. At the same time, these students will also be exposed to another important aspect of the Belt and Road Initiative – the exposure to trade and investment.

Another factor that must be considered when looking at this changing map is natural hazards and pandemics. These factors might cause some potential students to change their prospects from one country to another. China was mentioned above as an increasingly popular destination for international students. But with the outbreak of COVID-19, the tensions and dilemmas caused to international students and their studies is still an ongoing issue (NYC Health, 2020; Picadas, 2020). It seems that Chinese universities have found an alternative with their quick turn to studying online for both international students inside and outside China. Students at Chinese universities can now access learning and teaching via different platforms such as WeChat Work, ClassIn, Zoom. This situation seems to have enabled Chinese internationalism to maintain and gain status due to Chinese universities’ ability to offer flexibility in how they provide access to education, even in difficult and unexpected circumstances. This is especially in comparison with some developing countries with lower technology, were many of these students come from. It was mentioned above that many international students chose Asia for its technological prowess. This is especially important in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. This quick transformation on behalf of Chinese universities has allowed for the maintaining of academic activities while the pandemic continued to spread.

The changing map of international student mobility is wide with numerous factors pushing and pulling international students to different countries. In order to succeed within this changing map, it becomes imperative that countries should improve their academic attraction that will pull international students to study in their country. However, there is also the imperative for these countries to have alternatives when it comes to solving different political, ideological, economic, and socio-cultural problems, as well as pandemics. For this will allow foreign students to not feel threatened, continue with their daily activities and be exposed to more global interconnectivity.

Brexit, America First & COVID-19 reshaped international student mobility (Zhihong Ren)

The map of ISM is dynamic as international student mobility is affected by numerous, ever changing factors. These factors include: quality of education, policy environment, economic development and social stability. In recent years, Brexit and America First are two significant factors that cannot be ignored as they will change the map of international student mobility. Nevertheless, one can also not underestimate factors such as COVID-19 on the ISM map.

After Brexit, Havergal (2016) suggests that the number of students who come from the EU could significantly reduce in U.K. universities. As these EU students will no longer enjoy certain ‘privileges’, they may turn to other EU countries for higher education, as they will no longer be entitled to taxpayer-subsidized tuition fee loans. Hence, these EU students will be subject to international student fees that are significantly higher than the domestic tuition they were previously able to qualify for. Thus, to many of these students, it might seem more prudent to either choose a domestic university or another EU country to study in. If this is indeed the case, consequently it would seem that these vacancies in the U.K. university enrollment will naturally be filled by other foreign students who come from countries outside of the EU.

It is reasonable that as the United Kingdom and EU part their ways, previously signed agreements in the field of education must be revised. Accordingly, as the push and pull factors for EU students are changing in regards to the United Kingdom, the number of places for foreign students will also increase relatively. This is rather good news for Chinese students, among other foreign students that stand to benefit. Attracting Chinese students is not a new game for the United Kingdom. As in the past, the United Kingdom has spared no effort in its policy of attracting Chinese students. The policy that best highlights this turn towards Chinese international students and the international fees that they can be charged is the growing acceptance of Chinese university entrance examination results at universities in the United Kingdom. Even the acclaimed Cambridge has joined universities like Birmingham to accept these results. This is without the previously needed and generally required results from international courses. Thus, the changing map continues.

The impact of Brexit on the demand for international students remains controversial. Perhaps the need, or maybe better stated as desire, for international students to obtain further education in the United Kingdom in the near future will be increasingly more dependent upon the United Kingdom’s governmental policies and the strategies pursued by the higher education institutions. That being said, any reduction in the number of international students would undermine the diversity of the universities. However, the major impact of Brexit, in terms of international higher education, is that it could trigger a new round of global student mobility and global talent mobility. Thus leading to a change in the global university ranking pattern.

This uncertainty for the ISM map is not limited to Brexit alone, as can be seen by two other prominent examples – America First and COVID-19. Since Trump’s inauguration, many have deemed his comments and remarks to be a hinderance to immigration and international students. This could be seen by international students as diminishing their prospects post-graduation and even for student visas. Obviously, this has come with a decline in foreign-student enrollment (Dennis, 2017), once again affecting the map of ISM.

On the other hand, with the recent major public health emergency that is the COVID-19 outbreak, control and prevention in China is still at a critical stage and is far from over. What this has meant for international students at Chinese universities, who were not in China during the outbreak, is that they will not be allowed back to their university or China until further notice. Nevertheless, as the virus continues to spread across the globe, this lack of international student mobility has become widespread as many international students are either stuck in their home country or in their destination country. This is a palpable limitation to ISM and will have distinct impacts on where students will choose to study in the future.

It can be seen by these three examples, that there are many factors that can impact a prospective student to choose a destination country, safety being one of them. But indeed the future of ISM is being guided by these events.

The ever-changing map of international student mobility: A look at disruptions and waves (Stephanie Hollings)

Choudaha (2017) classifies international student mobility into three waves. Wave one was shaped by the 2001 terrorist attacks and international postgraduate students seeking extensive research opportunities; wave two spawned from the global financial recession, resulting in many universities recruiting international students for financial reasons; and wave three, the current one, was sparked by three main events: the slowdown of the Chinese economy, Brexit and America First.

What can be noted from these three waves, beyond the change in push and pull factors, is the disruptions caused to higher education and student mobility. It has been noted by many scholars that Brexit and America First have worked as deterrents to many prospective students. Dennis (2017) reveals that data from 2017 showed fewer applications from international students to universities in both the United Kingdom and the United States. She notes that surveys and reports explain this decrease in terms of a growing number of international students who see both countries as unwelcoming to international students. Najar and Saul (2016) explore that in terms of push factors, concluding that students see this anti-immigration tone in terms of safety, immigration opportunities and post-graduation work.

Looking at the currently released data, we can readily see the short-term effects of these push factors on ISM. Yet it is worth questioning what does it mean for the long term? What can be seen is a growing market, being saturated with more and more countries/markets but also a continuous number of new disruptions. China is one of those emerging countries. Often seen as a by-product of China’s Going Global strategy and the Belt and Road Initiative (Visvizi et al., 2019), China is trying to become more of an attractive destination to international students. Yet, they themselves are in the midst of what could be a great disruption to ISM – COVID-19.

It is fitting to use figurative words such as waves and disruptions. For when it comes to international student mobility, it is like a wave, something with clear short-term affects but maybe necessary for the ever-changing map of international education. I have been fortunate to have been a student in the United States (Bachelors), United Kingdom (Masters) and China (PhD). Two out of the three times, I was an active contributor to international student mobility. Nevertheless, if I think back on my reasons for choosing each location, I cannot help but think that I had a different set of push and pull factors affecting my decision, with pragmatic concerns about each, just as every other international student does. The process of choosing to partake in a journey in international education, is very much a multi-centered approach. However, often that is ignored in the research on student mobility and how that interplays with disruptions and in overall trends/waves.

There are still many questions that need to be answered when it comes to waves and disruptions. What these disruptions cause one to ponder on, beyond the future of which countries will continue to dominate as epicenters for ISM, is the impracticality of assuming any country is welcoming to international students. Could it not be stated that the primary reason for this sense of welcomeness is merely the pragmatic benefits that universities derive from international students?

Hence, some critical question remains: Are countries like China above these practical reasons for hosting more and more international students? Will these disruptions be enough to really deter international student’s prospective choices for a substantial period of time, as the landscape is perpetually changing, and further disruptions are bound to happen? And finally, as new countries emerge in the international education market, are not the student demographics themselves coincidingly also changing and ever-increasing? It is no longer just the upper class and elite that can consider international education. With that understanding, are the students choosing China the same students who would consider the United States., Switzerland or Australia, for example?

Three factors that changed the map of ISM during 2019 and 2020: Brexit, America First, and Coronavirus (Zhang Man)

The OECD (2020) explains ISM as an indicator, showing ‘the number of international tertiary students enrolled as a proportion of the total tertiary students enrolled in the destination (host) country’. Accordingly the OECD (2020) notes that ‘international students are those who received their prior education in another country and are not residents of their current country of study.’ International students are conventionally divided into two groups. Degree mobility refers to those who relocate abroad to obtain a degree, and credit mobility are those students who go abroad for a ‘short-term study exchange’ (Riaño & Piguet, 2016, p. 1). Hence, it could be said that the scale of ISM is exaggerated worldwide.

ISM is not a single dimension or a plane in the world. It is more like a dynamic map with multidimensional changes. ISM is affected by many factors, such as policy, finance, and world peace. In recent years, there have been Three Big Events (I call them TBE): Brexit, America First and Coronavirus. All of which have had a notable impact on ISM during 2019 and 2020, and will continue to beyond 2020.

A quick overview of these TBE will be provided. ‘Brexit’ is believed to lead to a decrease in research funding for U.K. universities and the loss of international students and scientific research personnel. This will trigger a new round of global student and talent mobility, as well as changes in the global university rankings. Thus, it becomes imperative to understand the ways in which both the U.K. government and U.K. universities decide to deal with these significant Brexit impacts. These decisions from the government and universities will further affect the development of higher education in both the United Kingdom and internationally (Hu, 2017).

The second ‘big’ event was when Trump took office in the United States and implemented tighter international education policies. As a result, the United States has become a less attractive destination country for ISM, resulting in fewer and fewer international students (Bartram, 2018). However, for many international students, the United States is still the ideal country to study abroad. As the United States still maintains the enjoyment of its status as a top provider of high-quality higher education all over the world. It appears that, even in the midst of an ISM event, economic strength continues to be a strong driving force for education development.

With the impact of Brexit and the tightening of the United States policies on ISM, there can be certain preparations and countermeasures. Comparatively, with the last event, COVID-19, the impact on ISM was sudden and unpredictable. The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 worldwide has exceeded people’s expectations and the total impact it will have on ISM remains volatile. Many colleges and universities have suspended classes and the movement of students, both at home and abroad. For those students studying in other countries, they are facing not only academic pressure but psychological pressure. More seriously, if the coronavirus cannot be effectively controlled, it will greatly affect ISM, more than it has in the present. This means that for those students who want to be exchange students abroad or obtain a degree, coronavirus will be a limit that cannot be overcome.

Although there are many factors hindering the development of the internationalization of higher education, it is undeniable that internationalization has become an unstoppable development trend. This is even despite these ‘big’ events that occur and the resultant change in push and pull factors. The academic community remains and will remain committed to internationalization.

Changing map of international student mobility: Brexit, America First, and COVID-19 (Sphiwe Wezzie Khomera)

In recent years, three main interruptions to student mobility have shown the limitations of ISM and changed the dominant trend.

Brexit changed the trend of student mobility, especially between British citizens and European citizens. Brexit’s large impact on educational and economic activities is due to the fact that the United Kingdom is the main destination for mobile European students, hosting about 38.4% of mobile students in Europe as of 2014 (Barrioluengo & Flisi, 2017). Brexit can be seen as a limitation for student’s mobility since EU students will be required to apply for visas. This is time-consuming, expensive and stressful (Falkingham et al., 2018). Additionally, the tuition fee hikes and inaccessibility of student loans and scholarships on the part of students coming from EU countries may cause those students from poorer families to not be able to access higher education within the United Kingdom. Other post-Brexit challenges, such as a lack of post-graduate work opportunities, accommodation restrictions and expensive health care services (Choudaha, 2017; Falkingham et al., 2018; Lomer, 2018) may also act as demotivating factors for international students. These students may hence opt for countries other than the United Kingdom for their studies. This may also change the mindset of some potential international students who had wanted to study in the United Kingdom for fear of hostile learning environments. As such, they may elect to go to other countries like Canada or Australia, which seem to possess more welcoming immigration policies (Choudaha, 2017).

Following the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the policy of America First has seemingly dominated Trump’s administration. Bartram (2018) pinpoints this in terms of ISM, noting that with Trump’s regime, the United States is becoming unreceptive or inhospitable to students studying abroad. This is evident in the growing immigration and visa restrictions for potential students wanting to study in the United States (Peters, 2019). For example, a potential student could face delays when processing visas which could affect their travel schedule, school resumption and starting calendar. This becomes a stumbling block for international students to go to the United States to study and they may tend to shift their interest to other countries. This shift may have negative consequences in that it may decrease the number of international students enrolling in American universities. For instance, in 2016-2017, the total number of international students fell by 1% compared to the previous year (Chauhan, 2019). In 2017/2018 the enrollments fell by 2.1% (Redden, 2019).

The outbreak of COVID-19, which started in China and is now spreading to all parts of the globe, has greatly affected, and may continue to affect, student mobility across the planet. China has recently been a hotspot for many international students from various countries. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has potentially scared away prospective students who had wanted to study in China because of health concerns. It has also prevented some Chinese students from studying abroad for fear of stigmatization. Furthermore, the closure of international borders makes it all but impossible for students to travel from their home country to the country where their university is located. The voluntary, or more often enforced, quarantine as a preventive measure has also made student mobility impossible. The outbreak of COVID-19 has also disrupted the economies of China, Europe and the rest of the world as factories have been shut down, many international flights suspended and workers placed in temporary lockdown. With goods not being produced and people not travelling for trade and tourism, the crash of the global economy is imminent and recession very certain. Until the pandemic is overcome, international education, student mobility and the global economy are uncertain and the future seems bleak and worrisome. It would seem that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing more harm than global policies and protectionist agendas combined.

In conclusion, America First, Brexit and COVID-19 may not only have an impact on student’s mobility and their future plans and career aspects, but also may cause enormous damage to the global economy and the economy of individual countries. For that matter, it seems that unless the COVID-19 pandemic is overcome, then student mobility may not return back to normal. Until then, ISM will remain at a halt.

COVID-19 will accelerate the influence of British and American conservatism on the trend of international study (Wener Zheng)

When international liberalism prevailed in the world, the United Kingdom and the United States, as the academic and economic centers of the world, became the top two importers of international students. In recent years, under the influence of conservatism, the proportion of overseas students going to the United Kingdom and the United States has decreased significantly. The nationalist policies of Brexit and the Trump government have brought economic, political and psychological obstacles to overseas students. This is emphasized in that some of these international students have reported feeling ‘not welcome’ (Dennis, 2017). What this causes is an increased sense of insecurity. This is shown in the treatment of EU students before and after Brexit. Before Brexit, they were treated as domestic students but after Brexit they will be treated as any other international student. This includes higher fees and probable fewer employment opportunities after they finish their studies (Falkingham et al., 2018). Thus, these students might look for other more affordable destinations to study abroad. These changing policies on behalf of the United States and the United Kingdom also work to make countries like Canada and Australia look more friendly towards overseas students.

The British and American conservative policy can be deemed as rather unwise from various standpoints. In the field of international education, it could form a dangerous domino effect. If the number of international students is reduced, the economic development of the countries will face challenges in terms of future labor forces possibly being insufficient and in terms of the loss of fees associated with international students. This will eventually lead to industry depression and economic recession, and even a passive position in the international economy. If these two countries want international talents not to be scared away by their overall policy, they should improve the welfare of overseas students. For the United Kingdom, this could mean that they should lessen the Brexit-induced worries of EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom by shedding light on their entitlements and rights (Falkingham et al., 2018). Uncertainties on behalf of international students must be understood and addressed, lest these dangerous games of dominos commence.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 has made people have a completely new understanding of the governance capacity of governments. It is difficult to improve people’s overall impression of a government by partial preferential policies for international students. The performance in COVID-19 will affect people’s confidence and credibility in the governance capacity of different countries and regions. Too loose communication management and control of COVID-19 will make people doubt the governance ability and credibility of the government. When one looks at the responses of the United Kingdom with its hopes for ‘herd immunity’, and the United States’ late response as to not disrupt the normal operation of the economy and society, it is easy to see how both citizens and international students have little assurance in their social security. Combining the COVID-19 pandemic with earlier policies such as Brexit and America First, some might even begin to doubt the fairness within their society. By contrast, the Chinese government has opened medical resources to every patient unconditionally and indiscriminately during the epidemic. This has created a trustworthy impression on people.

Before students take practical action, their preferences for certain policies stem from the good impression they have of a country and government. A good image of a government helps to attract the goodwill of people in other countries. For example, the effective prevention and control measures and solid results of the Chinese government in COVID-19 could enable people all over the world to better understand China and the reliable side of China. With such a psychological foundation, they will be willing to understand China’s policies and increase the possibility of studying in China. Therefore, I think the proportion of overseas students in China will be greatly increased, and more overseas students will come from Europe and America.

The changing map of international student mobility: From national interest to global hospitality (Rulin XU)

In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a ‘Brexit’ referendum. Voters in favor of Brexit accounted for 52% of the total votes. In November of the same year, the results of the U.S. presidential election were announced, and Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States. These two incidents have alarmed the world. These two incidents have reminded the world of two things: first, that the neoliberalism advocated by Western democratic systems will not provide a bridge to utopia, and second, that history has not ended. Instead, the world is engulfed in what seems to be a strange circle of weak economic growth, prosperity and depression, entangled by social justice issues and an increasingly right-leaning global trend.

This global quagmire seems to stem from the reality that we lack a cosmopolitan consciousness and attitude. Globalization can be thought of in many ways. Two will be explored here. It can be thought of as, first, the world’s material and spiritual interdependence, and second, our ability to adjust actions to meet unprecedented demands. These definitions traverse over what seems to be an insurmountable divide between the neo-liberal reality and the cosmopolitan undertones of globalization. However, these problems have not gone unnoticed during the continuing globalization process and often they are dealt with through international education. International education can be thought of as a way to create a cosmopolitan consciousness. Unfortunately, we have found that the natural emotions and conventional reactions of more and more people in power often lead to powerful countries shirking this cosmopolitan responsibility and renouncing their previous commitment to sharing resources and coordinating policies. Thus, countries turn from cosmopolitan values in favor of neo-liberal ones.

From the perspective of developing countries, it is advantageous to send students to study in more developed countries as they are seen to possess more advanced technology, knowledge and educational resources (Agarwal et al., 2008). The advantage of cultivating high-level talent is often lacking in developing countries. Therefore, sending students to learn advanced technology and knowledge from developed countries is an inevitable choice facing developing countries. From the perspective of the countries where international students are imported, attracting outstanding talent from developing countries to study in their own countries is also an important way for developed countries to reserve talent resources for themselves.

At the same time, as global international student mobility is increasing, there is a new trend to change that perspective of the advantages and motivations behind international education. While cultivating high level talent will inevitably still be a factor, there is a growing intertwining of multiple factors. With changes in the politics, economics and cultures of both traditional host and traditional supplying countries, international education seems to be taking on more missions. These new missions include cosmopolitan ones, such as understanding of other countries’ cultures, cross-cultural interactions and proactive global commitments.

The trend associated with these new missions of international education is one of educational cooperation between countries. This can be seen in initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative. Through this initiative, China has created favorable conditions in terms of scholarships for international students who want to study in China. According to the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (2008), these scholarships demonstrate the importance and need for the support of international exchanges. The purpose of these international exchanges is directly tied to their vision of international education. This vision is to build a community of common destiny and to be able to cope with the current global issues, even under the growing condition of anti-globalization (America First and Brexit).

In a sense, the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 could be seen as an ‘expected’ global challenge. A challenge that when viewed through the above-mentioned ways to define globalization reminds us of the interdependence of the world and the need to adjust actions to meet unprecedented demands. How countries, particularly those host countries for international students, handle the situation and other such ‘expected’ global challenges can alter the image of the entire country’s capabilities. The actions taken can be perceived in many ways, including reinforcing the neo-liberal reality or highlighting cosmopolitan undertones. For example, COVID-19 allowed for many countries, including many host countries for international students to create a brand-new image of rapid education and medical measures, openness of information, educational security, social welfare and even employment, i.e. a turn to cosmopolitanism. But for many countries the opposite can be said. Challenges like COVID-19 and how they are responded to be by host countries are bound to affect the map of ISM and the missions of international education, especially as ISM turns from being viewed as a national interest to one of cosmopolitanism global hospitality.

Disruptions and new dimensions of international student mobility

Coronavirus, online education and cross-border mobility (Mou Chunxiao)

There are constant changes and adjustments in the role of study destinations and countries of origin. The expansion of international education across the whole world, due in large part to globalization, is still ongoing. Countries are in direct competition for creative innovations in attracting international students who could be seen as potential skilled migrants. This means that there are constant changes and adjustments in the role of the both of the study destination and the countries of origin that need to be taken, One of those changes/adjustments is making mobility more feasible for a greater number of students. A report by Richardson et al. (2015) asserts that in terms of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies, it is crucial to discover means to broaden the reach of cross-border mobility to the greatest number of higher education students as feasible. Richardson et al. concludes that ‘[f]or cost reasons, the only feasible way of doing so is to tap into the opportunities provided by online modes of learning’ (p. 67).

Online education is a great way for students to master their learning and take more responsibility for their productivity. At the same time, teachers can also provide courses online anywhere in the world without space constraints. Particularly, with Coronavirus attacking the globe, online learning proves itself to be an effective and potential trend to boost international education. What this also means for international education is a widening lens in which to look at international students. International students can go from being viewed by universities as simple maximizers of financial and human capital to producers of academic knowledge (Madge et al., 2014) and thus as sources of academic capital.

This widening lens is much more in line with the traditional meanings of international education. One of the meanings of international education refers to a comprehensive educational approach that intentionally prepares students to adapt to global changes and address global challenges, i.e. ‘to be active and engaged participants in an interconnected and intercultural world’ (Peters, 2019, p. 7). At this special time of a global epidemic, learners regardless of nationality or social status are confined to their homes. However, at the same time, online learning, much of it in line with the above definition of international education, is increasingly become more accessible to all. Take for example Beijing Foreign Studies University, who since February 1, 2020, has opened their online language platform free of charge to the entire country of China. This platform includes access to foreign language courses covering 20 languages, resources supporting foreign language teaching and learning materials, international exams and culture liberal arts education. Interpreted through the above definition of international education, this online learning platform and many more like it are definitely preparing people to be, as mentioned above by Peters (2019), actively involved members in our increasingly connected world.

Even without the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus highlighting the advantages of online education, the fact that it helps higher educational institutes attract and retain more talent is still undeniable. Take the example of MOOC. MOOC online education, with its reliance on the internet, can reduce the cost of universities, reshape the organization of university education services, and increase opportunities for global students to learn. This thereby improves the efficiency of international education. Universities obtain a virtual world identity through the MOOC platform and its online courses and establish new relationships with students around the world. Thus universities obtain a digital, virtual space for survival and development in the Internet Era (Zeng, 2015).

One of the most popular open online classroom platforms is edX. Jointly created by MIT and Harvard University in 2012 there are now more than 1,000 local edX communities worldwide. Bradt (2014) discusses in a report on future education, published by L. Rafael Reif, dean of MIT, that as the cost of education rises, the potential for change in online teaching technology is obvious. Consequently, he encourages MIT to employ edX and other global learner communities to make MIT education more global and flexible, thereby expanding MIT’s educational reach. What this shows is that through disruption and globalization, international student mobility and international education can take shape through digital means as it already has started to for many years.

Conclusion (Benjamin Green)

This collection of student essays, written during an unprecedented time of global disruption, provides an in-depth discussion surrounding the current and future state of global education. Moreover, these firsthand accounts represent a form of collective intelligence that provides a subaltern understanding of ISM from the standpoint of those most ably positioned to understand its current manifestation. Specifically, the concepts mentioned herein (isolationism, nationalism, xenophobia, racism, etc.) speak to the profound implications of an international higher education (IHE) under threat. Furthermore, these essays descry a contemporary form of IHE which proceeds unremittingly towards a break from liberal internationalism (LI), retreating further and further away from its erstwhile aim of global peace education. Thus, internationally mobile academics (such as are being highlighted within these pages) have rightfully begun to question the viability and sustainability of the current neoliberal model of global education as a harbinger of transnational interconnectivity based on a human capital global developmental paradigm. Finally, while somewhat lamenting the demise of LI’s promise of cosmopolitan global citizenship, these young ‘mobile scholars’ continue to elicit a sense of hopefulness, providing much-needed insights which highlight how IHE may still yet prove a catalyst for perpetual peace.

Throughout this article, the centrality of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia dominated international student marketplace is brought to task. While neoliberal universities continue their overreliance on international (self-funded) students for an increasingly larger proportion of their funding portfolios, respective national governments have continued to promulgate policies that foment inhospitable social environs – ostracizing foreign students and undercutting meaningful cross-cultural scholarly exchange. Moreover, within an increasingly defunded model of the neoliberal university, international students represent increasingly vital sources of direct economic investment. However, as highlighted by many of these scholars, international students not hailing from the West often face derision, exclusion, and alarmingly prevalent instances of both physical and mental harm. It is no wonder then that an increasing number of international scholars have decided to speak with their wallets, using their mobilities as a means to ensure that the host university of their choosing, and its given national context, adhere to the central tenant of global peace education, exhibiting a clear adherence to the Kantian notion of hospitality and inclusion. Thus, writing from within a burgeoning alternative to the flagging LI model of IHE, these scholars highlight an increasingly viable model of Higher Education with Chinese Characteristics (HEWCC). A developing form of IHE that seeks to foment the erstwhile LI ideals of hospitality, openness and inclusivity through an unprecedented engagement with scholars who hail primarily from the developing world. Thus, while the United States and the United Kingdom become increasingly framed by their exclusionary educational policies and xenophobic social practices, China continues to exhibit a resolute commitment to global cosmopolitanism and the firm belief that IHE should be based in open, inclusive, and hospitable scholarly exchange. Lastly, as evinced by the diverse range of scholars represented within this very text, this article highlights the notion that IHE can (and should) strive to provide mobile academics with an economically viable form of liberal international global citizenship, while also aspiring to foment a future community of common destiny – a perpetual peace for all mankind.


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Notes on Contributors

Michael Adrian Peters is Distinguished Professor at Beijing Normal University, China, and Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are in educational philosophy, theory and policy studies with a focus on the significance of both contemporary philosophers (Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger) and the movements of poststructuralism, critical theory and analytic philosophy to the framing of educational theory and practice.

Stephanie Hollings is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at Beijing Normal University. Her primary areas of interest are international education, global citizenship and international schools.

Zhang Man is a PhD student at the Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in faculty development.

Eric Atta Quainoo, MPhil Measurement and Evaluation, is currently pursuing an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy at Beijing Normal University. Eric’s interest lies in assessment, evaluation, educational leadership, management and policy.

Hejia WANG, MSEd at the University of Pennsylvania, is currently Editorial Manager for Beijing International Review of Education at the Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest includes the internationalization of higher education, open and online education and education reform in China.

Yingying Huang is a master’s student at Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in comparative education and teacher education.

Shuchen Zhou, is a master’s student in the Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in educational sociology.

Amina Laimeche is a PhD candidate at the Centre of Teacher Education and Research at Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest is preservice teachers’ preparation and professional development.

Jasmin Omary Chunga is a master’s student at Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in curriculum and educational policy.

Sphiwe Wezzie Khomera is a master’s student at Beijing Normal University pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership and Policy. Her primary focus is on educational policy and girl’s education.

Zheng Wener is a senior student at Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in the principles of moral education.

Rulin Xu is a master’s student at the Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal University. Her primary area of interest lies in the global educational governance of international organizations.

Chunxiao Mou is a postgraduate student in the Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal University. Her interest lies in international education.

Benjamin Green is a PhD candidate at Beijing Normal University, Faculty of Education. His recent works have focused on US-China relations, global governance, digital nationalism, critical cosmopolitanism, and Chinese Internationalism as a contested project of alternative modernity.


Michael A. Peters

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Stephanie Hollings

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Man Zhang

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Eric Atta Quainoo

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Hejia Wang

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Yingying Huang

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Shuchen Zhou,

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Amina Laimeche

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Jasmin Omary Chunga

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Zhihong Ren

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Sphiwe Wezzie Khomera

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Wener Zheng

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Rulin Xu

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Chunxiao Mou

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


Benjamin Green

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, PR China


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Full Citation Information:
Peters, M. A., Hollings, S., Zhang, M., Quainoo, E. A., Wang, H., Huang, Y., Zhou, S., Laimeche, A., Chunga, J. O., Ren, Z., Khomera, S. W., Zheng, W., Xu, R., Mou, C., Green, B. (2021). The changing map of international student mobility. ACCESS: Contemporary Issues in Education, 41(1), 7-28.
Article Feature Image Acknowledgement: Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash