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"International students mobility pre, during and post COVID-19"

par Sylvie Chiousse - publié le

2 juin 2021, 5:45pm - 8:00pm, Milan
2nd International Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica - "Reinventing Education"
- Participation de Magali Ballatore et Jean-Baptiste Bertrand - "The impact of Covid-19 on PhD Students ongoing mobility in France"
Plus d’infos

“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 [Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007)] 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% [Ballatore, M., & Stavrou, S. (2017)]), 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 [OCDE, 2019]. 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 [UNESCO, 2019]. 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.


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