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The Full Story


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We are creating a network of scholars and practitioners to promote research on study abroad from a Global South perspective. “Study abroad” here means any form of international student mobility regardless of duration, from short-term, faculty-led programs to full academic migration in which the student travels to complete an entire degree or qualification overseas. Many Global South contexts, whether as sending or receiving territories, are significantly under-researched in this burgeoning field, offering exciting opportunities for new connections and publication projects. The Network will seek to leverage North-South partnerships to access funding for events such as symposia and conferences, strategise on publication and advance the aims identified below. Whether or not you have a prior connection with this field, please read the following rationale and contact us if you are interested in receiving further information.

Academic research on international student mobility has evolved significantly over the last two decades, in response to various factors: changes in mobility flows and student profiles; advances in digital technology; critical attention to the emergent notion of university internationalisation; broader currents in education such as moves to “decolonize” curricula. Much recent study abroad research has thus sought to lay bare and trouble conventional narratives, tendencies and tropes, such as:

  • Privileged Global North short-term study abroad students sojourning for self-fulfilment, on the one hand, or industrious Global South, full-degree international students sojourning for economic benefit, on the other.

  • Programs in non-traditional (Global South) destinations as perpetuations of neo-colonial development models in which (Global North) service learners, in particular, reenact salvationist fantasies.


  • Increasingly commodified short-term experiences in which the student gaze resembles that of the tourist, or even the colonist, whilst promotional material continues to insist uncritically on the gains in intercultural competence commonly assumed to be conferred by all international education.

Alongside attempts to address these issues and persistent inequities in the practice of study abroad provision, centering on representativity of student participation or balancing of home-host stakeholder relationships, for example, the academic field of study abroad research has also sought to mitigate its own hierarchies of privilege. Consequently, it is now more common to encounter participation in study abroad research and authorship of publications by scholars from a wider range of subject positions in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality and heritage, or institutional affiliation, amongst others. Moves towards co-construction of disciplinary knowledge by actively involving student participants, host community actors or other stakeholders in hermeneutic aspects of the research have also sought to redress traditional imbalances in the process of making meaning around international student mobility.

Notwithstanding this “equitable turn” in the field of study abroad research, significant gaps and imbalances remain:

  • Most study abroad research is still disproportionately generated in a relatively small number of mostly Global North university systems in the sending nations of shorter-term study abroad and is typically centered on programs and students of those countries. This tendency is inimical to the project of redressing postcolonial inequity promulgated by much contemporary study abroad pedagogy and research.

  • The distinction between shorter-term study abroad (in recent years often studied qualitatively and citing sojourner testimony directly), on the one hand, and full-degree academic migration (traditionally often studied through a quantitative, positivist lens), on the other (or between study abroad versus international students), theoretically questionable in the first place, has been rendered fully obsolete by the inclusive and identitarian turn of recent research in the field.

The creation of the Global Collective for Study Abroad Researchers and Administrators is intended to contribute to mitigation of these imbalances, seeking to:

  1. Foster research that gives greater voice to internationally mobile students from the Global South, exploring their experiences with the same qualitative attention that has been bestowed on their counterparts in the Global North, with due critical consideration of the many complexities that may trouble that binary construct. Quantitative and mixed-methods work that advances knowledge beyond what is currently known about study abroad by Global South students and their contexts will also be supported.

  2. Cultivate study abroad research that originates in Global South universities or institutions, whether focused on in-bound or out-bound sojourners (or the role of the nation or institution as host or sender), or on any other aspect of international student mobility, including its apparent absence, invisibility or taken-for-granted status.

  3. Facilitate partnerships between Global South and Global North researchers and other actors that favor the type of research described in objectives one and two, and the publication of such research so that it is freely available to a global community of scholars and other stakeholders, including through translation where relevant.

  4. Promote research, and its dissemination, that draws on alternative epistemologies and situated cultural understandings that are beyond the purview of current mainstream study abroad research, including research and publication in non-dominant languages.

  5. Generate research and connections that favor more equitable access to study abroad experiences that are designed and managed to maximize benefit for all stakeholders whose objectives and practices are benign, ethical and sustainable.

These objectives will be discussed and refined as the Network develops. If you are interested in joining the Global Collective for Study Abroad Researchers and Administrators or in following its activities, please follow the link below.

The Global Collective for Study Abroad Researchers and Administrators is a partnership initiative of the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature, Faculty of Humanities and Education, Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies (Barbados) and the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary's University, Canada.

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