Presentation at RIPS, University of Ghana

An overview of the research project was presented at RIPS on Wed 5th November, 2014. Here is the abstract for the presentation.\\

Abstract for RIPS Seminar Nov 5th, 2014, 2 pm

On A Course to Migrate?  Student Migration Aspirations among University Students in Ghana

by Kajsa Hallberg Adu, PhD Candidate, Institute of African Studies, UG

Academic mobility and migration is a topic receiving growing scholarly attention from a variety of fields: population geography, migration studies and higher education studies, however students from the Global South are rarely the objects of analysis. To address this lacuna, my dissertation research is a case study centered on students enrolled in higher education in Ghana and their migration aspirations. Although highly tangible in the Ghanaian society, the scope of Ghanaian student migration is not currently known, including its numbers, financing, destinations and underlying reasons. I argue there is a need to describe, analyze and theorize this particular phenomenon. For my dissertation research I employ the mixed method of focus groups (n=30), e-survey (n=500) and interviews.

Specifically, I want to highlight and discuss three contested areas in the literature. First, is migration out of the Global South is driven predominantly by economic considerations or cultural influences, further education and other considerations like the quest for “exposure” and self-realization? In the international student migration discourse (ISM) drivers of student migration for students in Europe are not predominantly financial in nature, but reasons for studies outside one’s own country rather include cultural influences, language learning and “adventure” (Alberts & Hazen, 2005; Carlson, 2011; Findlay et al., 2010; Murphy-Lejeune, 2007) In the local discourse, the capital needed to migrate suggests it is not a career path for the poor { Awumbila 2011}. Also, the pursuit of graduate and post-graduate training has been cited among for instance Ghanaian medical doctors as a reason for migration aspiration (Anarfi, Quartey, & Adjei, 2006; Dovlo & Nyonator, 1999).  Notably, Francis Nii-Amoo Dodoo (1997) in his analysis of census data for the US questions the returns of such investments for male African degree holders.  Second, what is a student from the Global South? A young, inexperienced free-rider or rather a valuable, talented, fee-payer? Students of today often finance their own migration, hence the value of students as fee payers and future highly-skilled workers in so-called knowledge societies is being recognized and more resources are put into recruiting students from the Global South, often directly on campuses in the Global South. Third, there are historical, colonial paths of student migration from the Global South to the Global North that often are assumed to be stagnant or even waning. However, the “decolonization of the mind” might be a slow process as has been suggested by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1994).

On this note, I hypothesize that student aspirations in the Global South are similar to elsewhere, but also formed by historically and contemporary construed information irregularities concerning opportunities.


Kajsa Hallberg Adu is a lecturer at Ashesi University College and a PhD-candidate at the University of Ghana. Since 2009, she has been teaching political science, leadership, and academic writing. Her dissertation explores student voices on migration aspirations and has the working title “On a Course to Migrate? Migration Aspirations among University Students in Ghana”.

Kajsa’s research interests include higher education in Africa, youth, migration, decolonial theory, pedagogics, and social media. Kajsa is the co-founder of BloggingGhana, an organization for social media influencers in Ghana. She is herself a successful blogger on She holds a Masters in Political Science from Uppsala University, Sweden