International student migration and the postcolonial heritage of European higher education: perspectives from Portugal and the UK

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Whilst the presence of international students from so-called ‘developing’ or ‘newly industrialised’ countries has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in European higher education, few scholars have explored the underlying postcolonial trajectories that facilitate student migration to many European countries today. In this article, we seek to narrow this gap by critically engaging with the postcolonial heritage of European higher education and the ways in which it informs much student migration in today’s era of neoliberal globalisation. We propose a three-fold approach to reading this postcolonial heritage of higher education which comprises its historical, epistemic, and experiential (or ‘lived’) dimensions. Whilst such an approach requires a close examination of existing postcolonial theory in higher education studies, we also draw on qualitative research with student migrants in Portugal and the UK to show how the postcolonial heritage of European higher education is negotiated in everyday contexts and may become constitutive of students’ identity formations.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-389
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020