4 June 2024

Is international student mobility still a distinctive strategy? A study of upper milieu students in Germany

Postdoc Gregor Schäfer has together with Professor Katharina Walgenbach from the FernUniversität in Hagen (Germany). published the new article "Is international student mobility still a distinctive strategy? A study of upper milieu students in Germany" in the Journal of Further and Higher Education.

Journal of Further and Higher Education: Vol 35, No 4

Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction, the article examines whether international student mobility (ISM) is still a distinctive educational strategy of upper-milieu students in the 21st century. As a result of the Bologna process, ISM has become widespread in Europe. Does this also mean that international mobility loses its distinctive character? Based on current studies that point to a differentiation within ISM, the authors investigate to what extent students from upper milieus may strive to re-establish the ‘structure of distances’ - as Bourdieu puts it – in the field of higher education.

The study conducts a comparative analysis to differentiate between lower, middle and upper milieus (vertical axis), with the main focus of the research being directed towards the upper milieus. In addition, the differences within upper milieus (horizontal axis) are examined by including three academic disciplines in the research design: management/business administration, medicine, and musicology.

The results of our study suggest that, even within the context of a knowledge society, characterised by an increased participation in higher education, there remain numerous symbolic, spatial, and cultural opportunities for students from upper milieus to distinguish their educational paths in distinct ways, e.g. the destinations chosen, the rhetorical framing of international mobility experiences, and the integration with work-related practices beyond the course of study.

Read the article: https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2024.2348755