An Assessment of Supply and Demand-side Theorizations of International Student Mobility



As a group of mobile people, international students have been under-studied. This is despite their numerical importance. This paper examines the changing characteristics of international student mobility, differentiating between social demand theories that seek explanation in terms of the power of social and cultural capital in driving middle class families to seek to get their children into the best western universities, and supply-side theories that argue that the global flow of students is powered to a large extent by the financial interests of those who can supply elite higher education opportunities to a world market. Student mobility towards the United Kingdom is used as case study material to investigate these issues.