International Education is Political! Exploring the Politics of International Student Mobilities


  • Johanna L. Waters University of Oxford



international students, transnational education programs, politics, Hong Kong


Public and academic debates around international students and the internationalization of higher education have been overly concerned with economic issues and insufficiently attentive to the political ramifications of associated changes in educational practices. It takes seriously a call made by Madge et al. (2009), in which they assert that notions of “engaged pedagogy” and “responsibility” need to be explored in relation to international student experiences. Debates have thus far neglected the wider “politics” that underpin the relationship between international students and their “host” university. An awareness of these political relationships has the potential to encourage progressive practices within the institution of the university, including the campus. The article examines the case of transnational education programs in Hong Kong, and considers why a political perspective on international student mobilities is important. The wider goal of this article is to inject some much needed “politics” into discussions of international—and domestic—student experiences.

Author Biography

Johanna L. Waters, University of Oxford

JOHANNA L. WATERS, PhD, is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College. Her most recent book, with Rachel Brooks, entitled Materialities and Mobilities in Education, was published by Routledge. She is presently working on a number of projects around the internationalization of education and student (im)mobilities, including one on crossborder schooling and another on satellite campuses of UK universities. 




How to Cite

Waters, J. L. (2018). International Education is Political! Exploring the Politics of International Student Mobilities. Journal of International Students, 8(3), 1459–1478.



Research Articles (English)