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The future of educational migration

In Issue 12, Routed Magazine showcases a selection of articles exploring the future of educational migration in a post-pandemic world, where we collaborate again with the Coronavirus and Mobility Forum at the University of Oxford's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS). The impacts of COVID-19 have been vast, and amidst border closures, universities transitioning courses online, study abroad programmes cancelled and city-wide lockdowns, international students have been some of the most directly impacted. 


In many cases, the reaction mobility choices made by students to return home reflect the intangible benefits of studying abroad, with the vibrancy of student life in London weakened by the pandemic. In Sweden, restrictive migration policies and the launch of online classes have led many to question if they can continue their studies, leaving lives in limbo. Many international students who could no longer work due to lockdowns have struggled in South Africa. Others are stranded in places such as Hong Kong with no prospect of returning home for the summer, or else forced to self-quarantine in Geneva. Female students who had to return home during the pandemic have had to deal with the double burden of following their classes online and doing all the house and care work their families and tradition impose on them.


Illiberal attacks on the freedom of education extend from the Hungarian government’s xenophobic policies, to Greece, where refugee children face barriers to receiving an education, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the quarantining of refugee camps. On the flip side, in London, two schemes are attempting to improve access to higher education for forced migrants. Meanwhile, for LGBTQ+ students across Europe, the notion of home has been shaped during lockdown by their relations, memories, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The future of international education looks uncertain, with some seeing room for growth through local mobility and branch campuses, and opportunities for the global South to capitalise on the impacts of COVID-19 and broadcast their research to a wider platform. Others reflect on the importance of mobility in academia and what might now be lost, and Chinese students share perspectives on pursuing graduate studies in the US, which until now have been fiercely competitive.


Looking beyond the world of education, we also bring you an examination of the Humanitarian Corridors Project, which is opening up safe and legal pathways between Lebanon and Europe for potential refugees. While in Libya, migrants and refugees face daily horrors and European efforts to keep them from crossing the Mediterranean, with UN agencies often failing to provide protection.


We would like to thank our writers for their contributions – many are students themselves, and are impacted by lockdowns and travel restrictions. We would also like to thank Professor Biao Xiang for encouraging us to undertake this issue and for his guidance and support throughout the editorial process. We are honoured to continue to be part of the initiative of the Coronavirus and Mobility Forum at COMPAS. Some of the articles in this issue will be republished at the Forum, contributing to a wider discussion across disciplines about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on mobilities.

Lastly, as always, thank you to Routed’s readership. We hope you enjoy this issue and share it far and wide!

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‘So many concerns’: Chinese students’ shifting perspectives on pursuing graduate studies in the US

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From my window: Quarantine and hunger during the rentrée at the University of Geneva

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How Global South research institutes can use COVID-19 to their advantage

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Refugee education in Greece: disjointed, disconnected and inadequate

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Why did/n’t they leave?: Understanding international postgraduate students’ (im)mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The university schemes aiming to improve access to higher education for forced migrants

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No family reunion this summer: International students stranded in Hong Kong in times of immobility

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A homing journey: Notions of home during the COVID-19 pandemic

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International branch campuses: What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?


The scramble, an abrupt end and uncertainty: Voices of Nigerian students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

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Becoming an academic while immobilised: International academic mobility and global inequality in Higher Education

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Gendered experiences of educational migrant returnees during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Futures in limbo: The impact of the pandemic on non-European students in Sweden

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Putting together the Hungarian puzzle


The Swedish Migration Agency and (im)mobility precariousness during the COVID-19 pandemic


Recognising ‘qualified vulnerability’: Obstacles to mobility in the Humanitarian Corridors Project in Lebanon

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‘This is hypocrisy’ – A Q&A with Giulia Tranchina on European migration policy in Libya

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