Elite or middling? International students and migrant diversification

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 22, 2015


With the extensive internationalisation of higher education alongside
restriction of traditional family and labour pathways to Europe from
former sending countries, student migrants now form a substantial share
of non-EU flows to Europe. Yet analysis of students as a migration
stream is relatively underdeveloped. Using a unique longitudinal dataset
that provides a large sample of third country student migrants to
Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK who are surveyed shortly after
arrival and then 18 months later, this paper provides the first
examination of the early socio-cultural and structural integration
process of third country nationals migrating to Europe as students. We
theorise that as well as an elite migration stream, we will also find
among these students a group of ‘middling’ transnationals, less highly
selected and more closely embedded in ethnic networks and with more
equivocal outcomes. Latent class analysis reveals three student types
in the UK: an elite and two ‘middling’ types. Ongoing analyses suggest
cross-country differences in student types. We also ask whether the
types experience different early socio-cultural and structural
integration trajectories in the ways that the elite and middling
transnational literatures would suggest. In the UK, we find
statistically significant differences in structural, but not
socio-cultural outcomes. We conclude that to understand the implications
of expanding third country student migration across the EU, it is
important to recognise both the distinctiveness of this flow and its






Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest