Recruiting International Students: Analysing the Imaginative Geographies of Three Urban Encounters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
177 Downloads (Pure)


International students are a critical source of income for UK universities, and yet reports indicate that their numbers have been in decline since academic year 2010–2011. Consequently, UK universities need to work harder to attract international students than ever before. This paper uses qualitative interviews with international office staff based at UK higher education institutions together with observational research at recruitment events which took place in Hong Kong in 2017 to demonstrate how the urban has a critical role to play in the international student migration industry. The paper showcases three urban encounters in the recruitment process: the higher education recruitment fair; the connections universities draw between themselves and other urban locations; and by considering how predeparture events mobilise the urban landscape to communicate dynamic learning experiences. The retelling and analysis of these encounters demonstrate how universities, and the UK, create, foster and embed the geographical imaginary in their recruitment processes in order to entice and encourage brand loyalty from prospective students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2276-2293
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number11
Early online date1 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Some of this research was supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), SRG05/17.

Publisher Copyright:
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2022.


  • International student mobilities
  • youth transitions
  • urban branding
  • higher education
  • urban encounters
  • international student mobilities
  • Urban Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Recruiting International Students: Analysing the Imaginative Geographies of Three Urban Encounters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this