In today’s global order, the status of countries and regions is no longer exclusively determined by powerful militaries or a wealth of raw materials. Rather, international competition is increasingly centred around a different type of resource: highly skilled human capital. On an exploratory basis, this thesis considers to what extent the European Union has utilised higher education programmes and has attracted international students as a strategy to build its own supranational, competitive knowledge economy. The initial focus explores the historical context of the European Community’s first higher education cooperation efforts between 1976 to 1992. Then, the thesis examines which events and communications steered the decision-making processes of EU higher education policy between 1993 and 2004 and led to the establishment of the EMJMD. After the creation of the EMJMD in 2004, the thesis analyses how the global financial crisis intensified Commission rhetoric on attracting and retaining third country students as human capital for the labour market. The second half of the thesis explores to what extent third country students are “retained” as knowledge workers in the EU, and this is determined using two methods. First, the thesis analyses survey data on Erasmus Mundus students and alumni from 2005 to 2018. Then, interviews are conducted with Erasmus Mundus students and alumni to ascertain their incentives for embarking on their programme, how they built connections while studying in the EU, and whether their experiences convinced them to migrate to the EU as knowledge workers. Longitudinal data from the Erasmus Mundus Association’s Graduate Impact Surveys shows that over the last five years, between 42% to 47% of Erasmus Mundus international students migrated to the EU after graduation. Interviews revealed a combination of factors that “pushed” international students out of their countries of origin and “pulled” them to study in countries within the EU. While various literature discusses how globalisation and neoliberal policy are affecting European higher education, little literature has intersected these themes specifically with Erasmus Mundus, and that is where this thesis aims to fill the gap. As the EU continues to innovate and invest in its higher education programmes to gain global competitiveness, it is necessary to discuss the implications of supranational authorities prioritising the retention of talent from around the world.

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Straver, M.
hdl.handle.net/2105/55328
Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Salowe, E. (2020, August 28). HARNESSING A KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY: EU DISCOURSE ON HIGHER EDUCATION FROM 1993-2010, AND ITS IMPACT ON MIGRATION OF ERASMUS MUNDUS INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/55328