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Abstract

Mette ERNLUND, M.A. & Ph.d.-student at the University of Southern Denmark / University College South Denmark meer@ucsyd.dk

Student mobility: Motivations and experiences In terms of educational policy, student mobility in higher education is high on the agenda; economic, political, cultural and social driving forces of globalisation have brought internationalisation to the centre of the stage.

As the question of volume tends to dominate the political debate my research shifts the focus from a quantitative to a qualitative agenda where students are given a voice. Narratives from students in Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France help me understand their motivations for going abroad and the experiences they get during their mobility.

My research is based on 20 interviews. Four ideal types have been identified as a tool to reduce the complexity of student profiles and to bring to the fore central empirical aspects of their thoughts and actions. Different theoretical approaches have been used in this connection to open up more layers of interpretation concerning the students’ motivations for and experiences with international mobility.

Working on the question of students’ motivations I make use of a motivation model, recent theories concerning modern youth culture and a concept of mobility capital to investigate more deeply why students choose to go abroad. In the case of students’ experiences I investigate personal, academic, social and cultural factors based on two theoretical approaches: one on narrative and one on cultural history. The narrative approach helps me understand how the students I have talked to attempt to create meaning in their lives through the experiences they have gained from exchanges. Cultural theory supplements my narrative analysis by, in some cases, explaining the students’ experiences in terms of the cultural encounter that takes place between the student and the host country.

Pièces jointes