International student mobility: drivers, patterns and impacts (MOBILITY)

In Norway, internationalisation and student mobility are high on the political agenda. There is a longstanding tradition for Norwegians to take their education abroad, and it is an explicit goal to increase the share of students who participate in international student exchange programmes. Since the 2000s, there has also been a strong increase of international students in Norway.

The rationale for internationalisation is often linked to a concern for quality, where positive effects are often taken for granted. The actual added value of a study abroad period is much less certain. How useful is it for the individual student – for their personal growth and in terms of their future careers? How do international students contribute to the local learning environments? These are some of the questions that are studied in the MOBILITY project. We examine the conditions for and effects of student mobility in and out of Norway, with specific focus on the relationship between the practices and effects with the stated policy goals for student mobility.

The project examines how Norwegian policy in the area is framed by international trends, and the extent to which international students contribute to ‘internationalisation at home’.  We examine who chooses to study abroad and how they rationalize their choices, and whether some groups of students seem to benefit more from their international experiences than others. Key questions include:

  • How is Norwegian policy for international student mobility shaped by European and global trends, and to what extent is this policy evidence based?
  • How do students make choices about studying abroad?
  • How do international students assess the quality of their education?
  • Are the career patterns of those students who study abroad different than those who do not?
  • What are the career effects of international education for Norwegians, compared to those who come from other European countries?

We then specifically focus on the case of teacher education and examine:

  • How are strategic priorities about internationalisation implemented and managed within teacher education?
  • How does student mobility contribute to quality enhancement?

Project organisation

The project composes of four work packages:

  • Changing context of student mobility (lead by Mari Elken)
  • Students’ features and experiences (lead by Elisabeth Hovdhaugen)
  • Labour market effects of international student mobility (L lead by Håvard Helland
  • International student mobility in teacher education (lead by Agnete Vabø)

The project employs a range of quantitative and qualitative data sources

  • Surveys among Norwegian students abroad and international students in Norway
  • Surveys among candidates who have completed education abroad and in Norway (NIFUs Graduate Survey)
  • Eurograduate – the European graduate survey
  • Registry data from SSB
  • Interviews with relevant stakeholder, including students, staff and administrative employees
  • Policy documents on national and institutional level

Research team

MOBILITY has two collaborative partners, NIFU and Oslo Metropolitan University (Centre for the Study of Professions). Uppsala University is also connected to the project.

  • Jannecke Wiers-Jenssen (project leader), researcher at NIFU and associate professor at OsloMet
  • Agnete Vabø, researcher at NIFU and associate professor at OsloMet
  • Mari Elken, researcher and deputy head of research at NIFU.
  • Elisabeth Hovdhaugen, researcher at NIFU.
  • Håvard Helland, Professor, OsloMet
  • Emil Bertilsson, University Lecturer, Uppsala University

 International advisory board

  • Mikael Börjesson, Professor, Department of Education, Uppsala Univeristy, Sweden
  • Peter Maassen, Professor, Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Christof van Mol, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Tilburg University, Netherlands
  • Laura Rumbley, Assistant Professor/Associate director Center for International Higher Education, Boston College, USA
  • Jussi Välimaa, Professor/Director, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Johanna Waters, Associate professor, Human Geography, University of Oxford, UK

National panel of users will be established in autumn 2018.

The project is funded through RCNs FINNUT programme.


project details

project number20969
project leaderJannecke Wiers-Jenssen
project coworkersMari Elken, Agnete Vabø, Elisabeth Hovdhaugen, Håvard Helland, Professor, OsloMet, Emil Bertilsson, University Lecturer, Uppsala University
project period01.07.2018  -  01.07.2022
fundingNorges forskningsråd

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