Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 11th Aug 2022, 03:42:19am CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel session - L.3 International students mobility pre, during and post COVID-19
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
5:45pm - 8:00pm

Session Chair: Luca Salmieri
Session Chair: Sylke Schnepf
Location: Room 10

Session Panels:
L.3. International students mobility pre, during and post COVID-19

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Sylke Schnepf1, Elena Bastianelli2, Zsuzsa Blaskó3

1European Commission DG Joint Research Centre; 2University of Turin (ITA); 3The European Commission's science and knowledge service

Policies supporting international student mobility prepare young people for the challenges of global and multicultural environments. However, disadvantaged students have lower participation rates in mobility schemes, and hence benefit less from their positive impacts on career progression. Therefore, policy makers aim to make mobility programmes more inclusive. Nevertheless, it is far from clear how policy design can achieve this aim. This study investigates factors driving unequal mobility uptake. It goes beyond existing research by not only focusing on individual choices but also on university characteristics, like university segregation, excellence and student support. In addition, the study is novel in comparing rich graduate survey and administrative data merged with university level ETER data across four countries. Multilevel regression results show consistently across all countries that disadvantaged students do not only lose out on mobility experience due to their background but also due to them being clustered in universities with lower mobility opportunities. Universities' support and excellence while important for explaining mobility uptake do not appear to mitigate unequal uptake in any of the countries examined.


Raghvendra Singh, Dylan Rust

Northern Arizona University, United States of America

International student enrollments in the United States have grown exponentially in the last two decades, leading more US Higher education institutions to invest in international student recruitment to get a share of the global student market. Since international students traditionally pay the full cost of attendance, this strategy is also a reaction to US Higher education budget cuts which particularly struck public universities, since the Great Recession of 2008. However, the COVID-10 pandemic, along with the challenging global political tensions and the contracting economy of the leading nations that send international students to the United States, international recruitment in the United States is looking at some of the biggest challenges in a post pandemic world. New enrollments of international students in 2020 declined 43%, while even the pre-pandemic data of the Institute for International Education’s Open Doors report from 2019-2020 highlighted a fourth straight year declines in new international student numbers as well as an overall decline in international students on American campuses (Redden, 2020). According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators (n.d.), the US Higher education institutions could see a loss of 3 billion dollars in revenue due to the major declines in international student enrollment.


This paper focusses on the future of international higher education recruitment in the United States in a post-pandemic world by conducting a quantitative survey with 42 international admissions officers working for US higher education institutions. The survey questionnaire was developed to identify the most challenging factors for international student recruitment according to the international admission officers in US Higher education institutions in a post-pandemic world as well as how institutions have changed and adapted their strategies since the pandemic began.. The questions focused on economic challenges, support from university administration, virtual recruitment, online academic programs, working with educational agents and development of academic partnerships with local educational institutions.

Outcomes (expected)

The results obtained from the quantitative survey and by critically analyzing some of the existing challenges faced by US Higher education institutions in a pre-pandemic world the authors are able to emerge with a clearer picture of international student recruitment trends and strategies in the post-pandemic world.


Cantwell, B. (2015). Are International Students Cash Cows? Examining the Relationship Between New International Undergraduate Enrollments and Institutional Revenue at Public Colleges and Universities in the US. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 512–525.

Choudaha, R. (2013, March). Social media in International Student Recruitment.

NAFSA. (n.d.). Survey: Financial Impact of COVID-19 on International Education.

National Association for College Admission Counseling. (2013, May). Report of the Commission on International Student Recruitment.

QS. (2020, November 12). How to Navigate the Challenges of Agent Management in 2021.

Redden, E. (2020, November 16). International Student Numbers Decline.

Serviss, Jennifer. (2016). The Effect of Immersive Virtual Environments on Student Perception

and Interest in a University Graduate Program. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.


Cristina López-Duarte1, Jane Frances Maley2, Marta María Vidal-Suárez1

1University of Oviedo, Spain; 2Sabanci University, Turkey

International student mobility is one of the hallmarks of the European Higher Education Area. So far it has mainly relied on traditional physical mobility (TPM). International virtual mobility (IVM) is a more recent alternative that implies an online cross-border experience where students remain in their own country while studying at their host university. IVM is a rapidly gaining importance because it allows overcoming the traditional social and financial biases usually shown by traditional programs. The recent health crisis caused by the COVID-19 and its consequent mobility restrictions has brought increased attention to IVM. Furthermore, part of the students that were engaged in a TPM program along the Spring semester of the 2019/2020 academic year turned their program to a virtual one due to this crisis. The aim of this work is to get an approach to the students’ valuation of IVM programs —pursued and achieved objectives, problems, advantages, etc.— and their willingness to engage on them. We have surveyed a sample of over 1,000 students from the University of Oviedo (Spain) that were engaged on or nominated for an international credit mobility program during the 2018-2019 (pre-COVID-19 crisis), 2019-2020 (COVID-19 outbreak), and 2020-2021 (ongoing crisis) academic years.

Our results show that a relevant number of students think that IVM is a good alternative to TPM when contextual factors impede or seriously difficult the latter (for instance, during a health or financial crisis); but not when these restraints are not present. Overall, IVM seems to arise just as a second-best option to be considered only when TPM is not possible. The reluctance to IVM seems to be clearly due to its shortcomings in the social arena: the factors that arise as the most relevant drawbacks of IVM are the lack of social interaction in and outside the university. Furthermore, the lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers and colleagues make students feel that they are not a legitimate part of the host university and impedes them to gain cross cultural skills. When focusing on the students that turned their program to a virtual one during the COVID-19 crisis, we find that they report a lower degree of achievement related to personal development, improvement of cross-cultural competencies, upgrading of their academic CV, and enhancement of their professional options. Just on the contrary, continuing with the mobility programme through an IVM option did not harm their achievements in terms of language improvement.


Magali ballatore1, Jean-Baptiste Bertrand2


“Internationalisation” has undoubtedly invaded the discourse and practices in education at the tertiary level. At this level, it is seen as a necessary goal. Internationalisation “includes the set of practices undertaken by academic systems and institutions – and even individuals – to cope with the global academic environment” (Altbach and Knight 2007, 290). State of the art scholarly literature enables us to map the main practices in the field, translated into indicators of internationalisation (Stavrou, Ballatore, 2017). In many countries, the higher education students and PhD mobility has already begun to change due to the spread of the coronavirus, lockdowns, but also Internationalisation Aboard (IA) and « hybrid » strategies adopted by national governments, European Commission programmes or higher education providers in Europe. We hypothesise that these policies, as well as travel restrictions, isolation or quarantine procedures, campus closures and border closures, have altered the nature of PhD student mobility and their experiences in France.

France was in 2020 the third most important host country for PhD students among OECD members[1] behind the United States and the United Kingdom. It is also one of the countries with the highest proportion of foreigners among doctoral students (40% [2]), alongside the United States and the Netherlands. However, even before the coronavirus crisis, this strong internationalisation has dropped in France, with a decreasing number of PhD student applications from both nationals and foreigners, at a moment when the number of PhD students is progressing nearly everywhere else in the world [3]. Can it be only explained by the shortening of theses’ duration in France? It is necessary to underline a decreasing number of first doctoral enrolments too [5]. This decline is observed for all regions of origin. North Africa and the Middle East are amongst the most affected by this rapid decrease (-17% between 2013 and 2018).

That is why we have undertaken a quantitative study by questionnaire this November, to understand and analyse these trends and the immediate short-term effects of the pandemic on PhD students experience in France, as well as its impact on gender gap and other social inequalities among students, depending on their social and geographical origins. This work in progress will then focus on a mixed-method study that will advance critical analysis of the changes on PhD experiences and social disparities resulting from the pandemic within the context of other higher education changes. We will present in this panel our statistical analysis of the questionnaires sent to all PhD students enrolled in France. Hence, we will bring a new empirical contribution and compare it with other existing data and researches in the field of PhD international mobility.

Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The Ιnternationalization of Ηigher Εducation : Motivations and Realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3), 290‑305. Ballatore, M., & Stavrou, S. (2017). Internationalisation policy as a (re)producer of social inequalities. The case of institutionalised student mobility. Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, 2, 251‑282. OCDE, 2019 2- OCDE, 2019 UNESCO, 2019


Alessandra Polidori1,2

1University of Perugia, Italy; 2EHESS

I am currently pursuing a doctorate in Sociology; my areas of interest concerns youth and Europe. The focus of my research is the relationship between the experience of young people in Europe and identity construction.

The aim of the article that I propose is to analyze if and how the Erasmus context is a privileged moment of identity building for young people. I would like to conduct this analysis through interviews with international students and participant observation within the Erasmus Student Network (ESN).

The sociological literature has been inclined in recent years to associate uncertainty and passivity with young people that recognize themselves in the generation of precariousness. Faced with this not too reassuring panorama, we can think of adopting a more comforting look towards some concepts. The mood of the crisis is not the only shared place for the construction of identity, even nationality, a fundamental point of reference, should be integrated with others constituent elements derived from the individual definition based on the belonging to a collective. In this perspective, the identity for new generations is linked to national belonging but does not reduce there, it is in fact integrated by belonging to other categories.

One of these could in fact be the belonging to a mobile generation, a kind of cosmopolitan nationality. In recent years, in fact, there has been an increase in youth mobility in the countries of the European Union thanks to the studying and working programs of the Erasmus project.

Youth mobility outlines a scenario of participation, curiosity and interest in the otherness that partially undermines the vision of the apathetic and disinterested young person in social and political life. Spending a period in Erasmus does not aim only at university knowledge, but also at living new experiences, situations and meetings that form a wealth of narratives shared with peers who have experienced the same context.

It is in fact a profound sharing among young people of all that repertoire that entails the condition of a student abroad. Young people who participate in this experience are not limited only to university attendance, but also to the discovery of the country where they are welcomed. We must ask ourselves if and how a context such as Erasmus can be considered an experience to which we can attach the construction of one's identity which brings with it shared languages, but above all the desire of young people to participate in community policies and to demonstrate an active part of society by releasing themselves the label of liabilities that is often assigned to them.

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