The fourth wave of international student mobility
Published on January 14, 2021

Rahul Choudaha, PhD
Director at GMAC | Analyst and evangelist of management education and careers

International student mobility is shaped by a complex interplay of national contexts, external factors, institutional characteristics, and individual preferences. The framework of ‘three waves of international student mobility’ analyses how external factors have influenced the choices and preferences of globally mobile students.

Wave I was shaped by the terrorist attacks of 2001, resulting in the United States losing its attractiveness as a country for international students to alternative destinations such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Wave II was triggered by the global financial recession in 2008 and prompted many US universities to become proactive in recruiting international students. A new political order defined wave III in 2016 in the wake of Brexit and the American presidential election.

Now, COVID-19 is impacting global higher education systems around the world and erecting new barriers for student mobility. At the same time, the future of the US and the UK visa and immigration policies may become more welcoming compared to the previous four years. This shift is a reversal from what triggered the third wave in 2016. Prospective international students may consider the US and the UK more favorably and this may have a ripple effect of intensifying the competition for international student recruitment.

In sum, COVID-19 uncertainty, coupled with political changes in the US and the UK, suggests the beginning of the fourth wave of international mobility.

Read the original article published in University World News.

Shifting candidate journeys and enrollment strategies, GMAC