Student Mobility, Livelihoods and Recruitment

International students have been recalled and sent home. Study abroad and student exchanges have been suspended. As of January 2020, there were about 5.3 million international students worldwide. But the coronavirus has wiped out any sign of student mobility and travel. How is the current pandemic reframing young people’s conceptions about mobility and immobility in education? What kinds of student migration patterns can be anticipated when mobility is rebooted?

 Student mobility and travel

International students in different parts of the world have been struck hard by the pandemic-driven tightening of border management, causing them to be stranded and left in a state of limbo. Local economies that afford international students with viable jobs have been disrupted. With the sudden loss of such work opportunities, student livelihoods were eroded within a matter of days. How do we make sense of precariousness in the lives of a relatively privileged cohort of mobile youths?

 Student livelihoods

Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, universities have been thrown into an imminent crisis of a reduction in student recruitment and loss in tuition revenue. This is especially for countries that are dependent on international students as a lifeline of their national economies. While such concerns enframe international students in an economistic manner, tuition fees are also a vital source of livelihood for local economies where universities play a significant role in the circulation of capital. How will the pandemic alter all these, and is it a case of survival of the fittest?

 Student recruitment and fees

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(COVID-19 global border management, Source: UNWTO, 2020)

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(COVID-19 Asia-Pacific border management, Source: Nikkei Asian Review)