Mobilities in Higher Education

SRHE International Conference 2022
5th – 9th December

The 2022 International SRHE Research Conference took place online from 5th – 9th December. Our call for papers invited researchers, practitioners, and postgraduate students of higher education to reflect on the theme of Mobilities in Higher Education.


In many ways, the higher education sector has never been so mobile. Our understanding of what constitutes educational mobilities has begun to expand in recent years, particularly as the internationalisation of higher education has come to occupy a central place on the agenda of policymakers across the world. Scholarship on the subject is growing in tandem with this development, with higher education researchers and practitioners offering critical perspectives on mobilities through the lens of spatial theory, social justice theory, and examinations of the neoliberal imperatives which drive some globalisation projects. Most recently, prominent discussions around mobility have ranged from a renewed focus on sustainability issues, to the relationship between student mobility and employability, to concerns around the lack of inclusivity and diversity throughout the sector despite its capacity for mobility.

The rapid shift to remote teaching and learning is now moving into an uncertain and uneven landscape of hybrid and in-person formats, presenting us with a variety of contexts from which to consider the mobility of higher education. With forms of virtual mobility proliferating over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an appropriate moment for us to examine the scale and geography of mobility within the higher education sector. How have changes in communication media and digital pedagogies affected staff and students’ inclinations and abilities to be mobile – and what is the impact on those without access to the technologies which support this? Which elements of higher education’s infrastructures are essential, desirable and sustainable, and what are the implications for mobilities? What are the ways in which spatial mobilities intersect with social mobility, and how does this impact on our methods of evaluating success, outcomes, and access?

Even in this highly mobile sector, educational experiences are rooted in particular spaces and times –in analysing these experiences, how can we incorporate transnational space? How do we account for the ways in which educational spaces are continuously and rapidly evolving? With transnational spaces and collaborations now taking new and different forms, what are the new and different challenges which HE researchers and practitioners must contend with? Throughout the conference, we invite discussion of the comparative methodologies which enable us to navigate boundaries of language, geography, and discipline in our studies of mobilities in higher education.

We invite analyses of mobilities, and barriers to movement, occurring at every scale of the higher education landscape and reflections on material and imaginative geographies of (staff/student) mobility. What are the possibilities and challenges for staff in moving across increasingly hazy boundaries between academic, non-academic, professional service, and management roles at once? What are the experiences and key considerations for those who occupy multiple personal and professional roles at once?

We encourage explorations of the wide-ranging implications for those for whom mobility is restricted, disrupted, or imposed. What is the relationship between mobility and different knowledge economies, and how can we decolonise our understanding of (im)mobility as the sector becomes increasingly global? What are the common themes, assumptions, and norms around which discussion of (im)mobility tend to gather – and what are those themes which remain underexplored?