ESRC Seminar Series: New Spaces of EducationInternational Higher Education and the Mobility of UK Students Rachel Brooks (University of Surrey) Johanna Waters (University of Liverpool)
The internationalisation of HE • Last twenty years – growth in global trends towards international study • Most research focuses on a fairly narrow selection of students/destination countries • Research on UK students has examined short-term mobility (e.g. Findlay et al. 2006) • Our study: examines the international mobility of UK students for the whole of an undergraduate/ postgraduate degree
Key aims: • To understand how and why UK students make the decision to study overseas, particularly the factors/considerations that inform this decision; the social and familial context to the decision-making process; and the relationship between social class, gender and ethnicity and overseas study. • To generate new knowledge about the experiences of overseas-educated graduates on completion of their studies, including how graduates assess the value of their overseas education; whether they experience any obvious advantages/disadvantages in the labour market; and whether mobility for education is indicative of mobility after education.
The UK and international education • Global market • Bologna Declaration • Prime Minister’s Initiatives on International Education • Increasing emphasis on benefits overseas study can offer UK students • Anecdotal evidence of increase in outward mobility of UK students • Fulbright Commission figures • Media reports about growing interest in European HEIs • Outreach work by Harvard University
Employability and overseas study • Economic rationale for expansion of HE in UK • Government analysis not shared by all • Less correspondence between academic credentials and labour market destination • New means of reproducing social advantage: • Rise of a ‘parentocracy’ • Increasing importance of status of HEI attended • Paid work and extra-curricular activities (during full-time study) • Further learning • Overseas study an additional strategy?
Overview of methods • Qualitative, in-depth interviews (80 in total) with UK citizens: • 20 sixth-formers seriously considering overseas study • 20 undergraduates seriously considering overseas study • 20 who have completed an undergraduate degree overseas • 20 who have completed a postgraduate degree overseas • Recruitment using variety means, including: schools, Connexions, Fulbright Commission, alumni associations, Canadian Rhodes Scholars Foundation, Commonwealth Scholars Commission
Emergent findings (1) Overseas education as offering a ‘second chance’ at ‘success’ • High expectations • Overseas degree offers an ‘acceptable’ alternative • Top US institutions preferred (ones that are “globally recognised and acknowledged”) • Also offers a second chance at securing funding
Emergent findings (2) Global ‘circuits’ of education • ‘Circuits’ of schools and HEIs • Differential ability to overcome the ‘friction of distance’ • Evidence of global circuits – rather than national or regional • Failure to secure a place at one elite institution did not lead to a shift ‘downwards’, but ‘sideways’
Conclusion • These are preliminary findings: study runs until end of July 2008 • Initial findings point to the relatively privileged nature of overseas study • Suggest the importance of gaining a ‘second chance at success’ as well as the emergence of global circuits of education