Magali Ballatore, Sophia Stavrou

Internationalisation policy as a (re)producer of social inequalities. The case of institutionalised student mobility

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Keywords: Internationalisation; Erasmus; Student Mobility; Higher Education Policy; Social Inequalities.

This paper focuses on contemporary trends in higher education policy, specifically institutionalised student mobility, which indirectly participate in the (re)production of social inequalities in higher education. The present article examines the policy co(n)text in which the rhetoric of institutionalised student mobility has emerged and evolved, as well as the modalities of implementation of the Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) programme in several European higher education systems, through quantitative and qualitative data. We show that the Erasmus programme cannot entirely fulfil its official ambition to provide the opportunity of freedom of movement through higher education, potentially leading to democratisation of educational experiences for individuals, and of the distribution of new forms of «cosmopolitan» cultural capital. International partnerships are not randomly established, but stem from institutional strategies that depend on the country and configuration of the higher education systems. Furthermore, students' socio-economic status has a considerable influence on their propensity to participate in the programme. Observations allow us to further scientific debate with regard to the persistence of social inequalities in higher education, by identifying the role of HE policy, institutions and the international market in (re)producing this inequality.

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