Adapting to change in the higher education system: international student mobility as a migration industry

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Of late there has been considerable interest in understanding international student mobility, and this has tended to focus on the perspective of the students who take part in this mobility. However, international students are part of a considerable migration industry comprised of international student recruitment teams, international education agents and other institutions selling an education overseas (such as the British Council in a UK context) and as yet there is little research which analyses these relationships. This paper investigates a series of interviews with international office staff to examine the methods they use to recruit international students, and in particular the relationship that they have with international education agents who work with them on a commission basis. It focuses on recent changes to the UK visa system which have led to a decline in the numbers of Indian students choosing to study towards a UK higher education. However, it also reveals that some universities have managed to avoid this trend. This paper investigates why this is the case, demonstrating that there is a need to think about the intersections between migration industries, visa regulations and international student mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-625
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2018


  • international student mobility
  • international education agents
  • student recruitment
  • migration reform


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