Education has been one of the earliest topics dealt with comparatively across countries in the IMISCOE network. The role of education as a key topic was clearly reflected since 2012 in the role of the Standing Committee on Education & Social Mobility, and since 2015 in the role of the Research Cluster on International Student Mobility and Migration. The newly proposed Standing Committee integrates both groups, reflecting the ongoing central importance of the field of education – at the primary, secondary and tertiary level – for understanding international migration patterns as well as experiences and outcomes in host country contexts. Furthermore, it is through education that social inequalities are sustained, increased, or abolished. This is why this research cluster also specifically focuses on “social inequality”.

The SC Education, Mobility and Social Inequality aims to stimulate international comparative research on the intersection between education, (international) mobility and social inequality. This intersection provides an ideal starting point to combine wider social theoretical work with empirical data collections and analyses. We aim to advance critical theoretical discussions on topics of social inequalities in education, education-to-work transitions as well as international mobility and education (e.g. students and refugees). In the past, we have called attention to theories of social reproduction and we will continue to work on these realms yet we also aim to extend the focus to, for example, organizational approaches in order to foster our understanding of the systemic and institutional production of educational trajectories and social inequality. Moreover, we seek to strengthen the topics of discrimination and racism in education and particularly invite researchers working on these topics to contribute to the SC’s activities.  

Names of coordinators

  • Dr. Elif Keskiner (Free University of Amsterdam, Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Dr. Christof van Mol (University of Antwerp (CeMIS) & Tilburg University, Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Names and institutional affiliations of (key) members

  • Dr. Christine Lang (Max Planck Institute-MMG, Göttingen)
  • Dr. Jens Schneider (University of Osnabrück; IMIS) 
  • Dr. Nicolai Netz (German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies)  

Agenda of activities

The SC plans to systematically extend the research focus to more general questions of social participation in an increasingly diverse and mobile, but also unequal world. On the theoretical level, the spectrum of approaches ranges from theories of social reproduction via capital theories to migration theories. The focal point “social inequality” allows us to study persisting inequalities and differences in education across Europe and beyond, and by this way the SC also invites for studies of discrimination, racism, and other means of social inequality (re)production to be carried out under its umbrella. Doing so, we also want to advance theoretical exchanges in the IMISCOE network, but with a continued strong foothold in empirical research. 

In the coming years, the SC plans to organize panels at the annual IMISCOE conferences with open call for papers. Both junior and senior researchers within and outside of the IMISCOE network are welcome to approach us with ideas for workshops  and/or with panel suggestions. Please contact the SC coordinators for further information.


Pathways to Success-Book (in progress)
This book project is the joint publication of a comparative research initiative in six countries on the upwardly mobile descendants of migrants. It sheds light on the barriers and opportunities for successful educational and professional trajectories as well as the institutional contexts shaping them. 

Social Ties Project (in progress)
This publication initiative aims at advancing a critical theoretical discussion on the connections between migrants’ networks and their social mobility. 

Special issue on the role of place in international student mobility (in progress).
This special issue aims at a broader understanding of the decision-making process of international students, i.e. not to focus only on why students move (that is, to consider motivational, psychological, and socio-demographic influencing factors, which has often been a focus in past research), but also where they move to and from, and to what effect (that is, to take into account factors such as destination country and city characteristics).