The flows of international students are like the currents of the oceans, not only affecting the individuals adrift in them but the global circulation of policy, economics and academics as a whole, bearing pros and cons for each country or region along the way. To date, there has not been a detailed and elaborate description of the fluxes of international students over decades. In light of the research gap, the article utilises the chord diagram to draw threads between each pair of origin and destination of international students in the last 20 years and divides the periods into four main phases. With each phase exhibiting its specific features, we have tentatively concluded that the global student mobility structure has evolved from Arterial (1999–2003), Breakthrough (2004–2008) to Catch-Up (2009–2013), and lastly, Diversification (2014–2018). Corresponding reasons underpinning each change of the migration flows are also discussed briefly in the article.
- Chord diagram
- countries and regions
- geo visualisation
- international student mobility