Unlikely Faces in Unlikely Places: International Student Mobility and the Rise of the 'Third World' Education Hub
Yasmin Ortiga

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Singapore Management University

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
Studies on international student mobility have mainly centered on the experiences of prestigious universities located in wealthy nations like the US and Australia. Largely ignored is how institutions in the Global South also take advantage of worldwide demands for international degrees, catering specifically to students with less economic and social capital. This qualitative study investigates the emergence of an unlikely education hub in the Philippines, a country with a reputation for sending migrant workers overseas, yet is relatively unknown as a destination for international students. In recent years, Philippine universities have seen an influx of students from India, Iran, and the US. These students enter low-tier, for-profit universities offering degrees for professions where Filipino migrant workers are highly represented (eg. nursing), often with the promise of also finding work in a global migrant labor market. This project investigates the structural barriers and social networks that channel international students towards these programs. I also examine how Filipino educators adjust to these students� presence, altering school structures in appealing to their needs. In doing so, this project seeks to highlight a significant, yet often ignored segment of the global higher education market. I argue that it is by investigating student mobility to seemingly unlikely destinations that we better understand the diverse ways that global changes affect the purpose of higher education, beyond the conventional models that have dominated current literature.
About Yasmin Ortiga
Yasmin Y. Ortiga is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Singapore Management University. She studies how the pursuit of knowledge and ?skill? shapes people?s migration trajectories, changing educational institutions within both the countries that send migrants, as well as those that receive them. Her previous research investigated how Philippine higher education institutions attempt to produce workers for ?export,? altering local curriculum and school structures in order to educate students for the anticipated needs of foreign employers. She recently published the book, ?Emigration, Employability, and Higher Education in the Philippines? (Routledge). Her work has also been published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, Globalizations, and Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.

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