Students are on the move. An increasing number of students move abroad for education, both as part of exchange programs and as “free movers”. In the field of higher education, increasing the international mobility of the student population has been a top priority. Studying abroad is often described as valuable educational and cultural experiences. In addition to the educational merits, cultural experiences and personal development, it is also argued that internationally mobile students are set to enjoy an advantage in employability and mobility in a supposed future international and intercultural labour market. Increasing demands have been placed on universities as social institutions to produce internationally mobile professionals.
Evaluations of exchange programmes, for example ERASMUS, show that there may be some truth to the claim that international education provides an advantage in the labour market. However, the results of the studies are often cautiously positive.
While the discussion of international education and mobility is attracting more and more attention, it is often pointed out that it is difficult to define “international education”, and that it is better understood as aspects of transnational work.
This paper investigates how international education is translated and performed by Swedish educational programs. It deals with questions such as what makes a student internationally mobile and what it means for an educator to teach an international education and provide students and graduates with international competences. The empirical materials are interviews with teachers in Swedish higher education, working in three different international fields: a PhD with teaching experiences in courses in an international master program, a director of studies in international master program with additional experience in a national program and a director of studies in a national program with an international focus.
Drawing upon the sociomaterial perspective on mobility and education, the paper aims at tracing the different entities that enable student and graduate mobility and in which way international educations are performed. The paper discusses various entities such as policy documents, degrees, language, incoming and outgoing students as well as the labor market, and how they contribute to create a space for anticipation and limits of “international education” and “international mobility”.
2012. 12-13 p.
ProPEL International Conference, Professional practice, education and learning, 9-11 May 2012, Stirling, UK