The aim of this article is to analyse political rationales for promoting student mobility in Europe and discuss these in the light of individual experiences of mobile students. Since the creation of the ERASMUS programme in 1987, student mobility in Europe has been the subject of unusual political promotion. More recently, in the context of the Bologna process, the goal of increasing student mobility has been reaffirmed by various higher education actors. Student mobility is thought to be both a component of the European Higher Education Area and one of its outcomes. Beyond this apparent widespread acceptance, we examine, on the one hand, underlying legitimating ideas and rationales that accompanied the institutionalisation of student mobility by the European Commission and a regional French authority. We also discuss the extent to which drives for mobility and outcomes at the individual student level are in line with the political perceptions and expectations of the above-mentioned institutional actors.