Reverse flow in academic mobility from core to periphery: motivations of international faculty working in Kazakhstan

Jack T. Lee, Aliya Kuzhabekova

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56 Citations (SciVal)


Through expanding flows of labor and knowledge on a global scale, academics are increasingly mobile as higher education institutions compete for talent that transcends borders. However, talent often flows from the periphery to the core as scholars seek out employment in recognized institutions of higher learning in developed economies. This study examines faculty mobility in a reverse direction: from the core to Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia. What factors persuade faculty members to relocate to Kazakhstan for full-time employment? What types of individuals pursue this relocation? Through interviews with international faculty members based in Kazakhstan, the study identifies push factors that trigger departure from one’s previous country of residence: job market, unsatisfactory work conditions, age, and marital status. Alternatively, Kazakhstan attracts scholars via pull factors that include salary, sense of adventure, and the opportunity to build new institutions and programs as well as conduct research. Unlike previous studies that highlight boundaryless mobility and individual agency, this study reveals constraints that mediate international faculty mobility. Furthermore, salary plays a limited role as a pull factor particularly among early career academics who are seeking research opportunities and meaningful contributions in building new academic programs and institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalHigher Education
Issue number2
Early online date17 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Academic labor
  • Cross-border education
  • Faculty mobility
  • Internationalization
  • Migration
  • Transnational education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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