Shifting International Student Mobility Directions and Factors Influencing Students’ Higher Education Destination Choices

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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Leadership Studies


Student mobility is an integral facet of the internationalization of higher education. In the last couple of decades, the landscape of global student mobility has been influenced by economic and cultural reasons, national political climate, and global geopolitical realities. The paper attempts to trace student mobility flows, explore the historical developments surrounding international higher education which have caused the shift in student mobility directions, and highlight the emergence of new higher education destinations. The paper closely looks at the literature on student mobility in the US, UK, continental Europe, India, and China. It primarily explores the factors which have impacted international student mobility. The secondary data related to changing student mobility trends and factors influencing student mobility was extensively reviewed. The findings revealed that an array of factors such as linguistic landscape, national immigration policies, welcoming environment of the host country, quality of higher education institutions emerged as the central considerations for students choosing to study abroad. This paper argues for, against the shifting student mobility directions and flows, continental Europe may emerge and continue to be an important higher education destination. The significance of this study lies in the fact that considering the student mobility landscape is volatile and the factors influencing study choices of students are varied, policy-makers and higher education leaders need to be cognizant of student motivations while formulating policies and strategies in higher education.

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