skip to content

The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement


This programme of research explores the structural, ideational, social and geo-political dynamics and mechanisms shaping the diverse projects and movements that constitute the global mobility economy. We take account of the longer history of movements of elites between higher education systems, and the circulation of skills labour. However, our main focus is on the transnational movements of large numbers of students either studying in formal programmes or engaging in study abroad and Foundation Programmes, and the role this segment has begun to play in national governments development of educational services.


Since the late 1980s this number has expanded rapidly, with competition between institutions, nations and regions reshaping education and social landscapes – from cities to nations. At the same time new counter-movements have emerged from those who have been sending countries to those who are now receiving countries – including Singapore, Malaysia and China.  Paralleling these developments has been the rise of regions, and the implementation of regulatory infrastructures to ensure the smooth flow of skills labour and acceptance of qualifications, and bi- and multilateral trade agreements aimed locking in services agreements in education into the future.


Members of this programme are working on

  • the dynamics shaping regional and global flows of students and skilled labour;
  • new initiatives aimed at lubricating the flow of students, including Foundation programmes and Embedded Colleges – which add to the complexities of the HE sector; 
  • the rise of nationalisms, concerns over security and immigration regimes that rupture these global flows, and what this means for individuals, institutions and nations;
  • new spatial strategies – from region-building to the One Belt One Road strategy that are constituted by education projects and institutions; and
  • trade agreements aimed at locking in particular flows and arrangements.


The outputs of this programme of work are intended to provide evidence for policy and impact in a range of constituencies, local/national, regional and global. 


Convenors: Professor Susan L. Robertson (Education) and Dr Eva Hartmann (Education)