Academic mobility refers to students and teachers in higher education moving to another institution inside or outside their own country to study or teach for a limited time.
Mobile students are usually divided into two groups: free-movers are students that travel entirely on their own initiative, while programme students use exchange programmes at department, faculty, institution or national level (such as Erasmus, Nordplus or Fulbright). Nowadays, the traditional Erasmus exchange (which involves travelling) has been complemented with Virtual mobility, or Virtual Erasmus, in which students from different countries may study together without leaving their home.
Academic mobility of international students
According to OECD( Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) data, the mobility of international students has significantly increased in the past four decades, from 250,000 in 1965 to approximately 3.7 million in 2011. These statics show the academic mobility of international students that aim for a degree rather than short-term "study abroad" education. UNESCO suggests that there are over 2.7 million students studying in a country other than their origin country. The group of Asian students is the largest constituent part of all students who enrolled in the overseas schools. They make up 45 percent of total of international students in OECD countries, and 52 percent of total in non-OECD countries.
Most mobile students suffer from lots of barriers both in their lives and academic activities. For example, Sanchez, Fornerino, and Zhang did a survey among 477 students who respectively studied in United States, France, and China. This survey suggests that the students studied in these three countries have following barriers such as family barriers, financial barriers, psychological barriers and social barriers. The psychological barriers relate to the aspects such as homesickness or the fear of the new environment, and the social barriers usually relate to friends and family. Different students are various in degree of these problem.
For the credit mobile students, they will meet some specific academic difficulties. A survey by Klahr and Ratti emphasizes the importance of the lack of recognition of periods abroad and credit transfer. Besides, insufficient knowledge of academic prerequisites and qualifications of various countries , differences in the structure of the academic term, disparities in the times at which examinations are taken, these are all common problem of credit mobile students when they engage in academic activities. Moreover , the lack of foreign language skills is considered as another big barrier to most of the mobile students, not only the credit mobile students.
Female mobile students have some particular barriers because of their gender role. The female mobile students, especially who are in order in age, are tied to a specific spatial context by private responsibilities. For example, partnering and children will have a great effect on the female's academic mobility. Some findings from qualitative interviews with researchers from Bulgaria and Poland, confirmed the great significance of personal and family relationships for female's academic mobility, either as a barrier or as an incentive.
- OECD (2011). Education at a Glance 2011. Paris: OECD. p. 320.
- UNESCO (2006). Globle Education Digest 2006. Paris: UNESCO. p. 34.
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- OECD (2006). Education at a Glance. Paris: OECD.
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