‘Mobility and Internationalisation in the Future University’

An understanding of the process of internationalisation in academic research demands a more inter-disciplinary understanding of three somewhat distinct areas of research enquiry. igration theorists are increasingly interested in the temporal quality of contemporary mobilities and the role of short term moves(Ackers and Gill, 2008; avell, 2008; King, 2001). However, research on business visits remains a somewhat distinct field (Beaverstock, 2004; Tani, 2008).  Researchers have also emphasised the role that networks play in ‘channelling’ migration behaviour, contributing to ‘brain drain’ processes (Meyer, 2001) and in shaping ‘reverse knowledge transfer’ or ‘disembodied’ knowledge flows (Ackers and Gill, 2008: Williams and Balaz, 2008). New concepts have emerged to describe these processes often tied to particular disciplinary contexts. These include the concepts of ‘motilities’ (Kesselring, 2006; Flamm and Kaufmann, 2006; Urry, 2007), ‘mobilities’ and ‘incomplete’ (Okolski, 2001) or ‘failed’ migrations (Ferro, 2006; Carlin, 2002) and ‘partial migrations’ (Golynker, 2006).

Contemporary researcher mobility is increasingly complex with individuals engaging in diverse forms of movement and international engagement. These forms shift in response to field specific needs or personal circumstances and evolve over the life-course. They may also inter-leave with individuals combining longer stays with shorter term forms of mobility often with distinct spatial manifestations.

Understanding the relationship between mobility and internationalisation demands more detailed empirical attention to the complexity of these processes and the outcomes associated with them. Building on extensive previous research and active policy engagement, Professor Ackers will commence an in-depth analysis of the mobility and internationalisation of research staff at the University of Liverpool capturing those individuals that could be categorised as mobile under traditional definitions (spending at least 3 months abroad) and those who could be narrowly defined as ‘immobile’. The research commences in Spring with the support of colleagues in professional services and informed by the work of the ERA Indicators Group.

During the fellowship I will concentrate on analysing existing findings and discussing ideas with colleagues in Cambridge building a collaboration with Dr Tim Vorley (geography) and identifying other interested researchers across a range of disciplines.  I plan to produce two journal articles (linked to the Workshops) and a Policy Report to form the basis of discussion in the Policy Event. I will collaborate with Dr Vorley in a funding application to develop an international study.


Louise Ackers (Law, University of Liverpool) is a Visiting Fellow at CRASSH, Michaelmas 2010.


Tel: +44 1223 766886