HomeNew Academic and Scientific Migrations in the South

HomeNew Academic and Scientific Migrations in the South

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Published on Friday, February 19, 2016


The aim of the conference is to explore new international academic patterns. During the last two decades, countries in the South (Asia and the MENA region) have developed their higher education systems and scientific capacity and have become attractors for students and scientists from both the North and the South, presenting a challenge to the traditional "brain drain". In order to better understand those new phenomena, we are looking for contributions exploring empirical case studies about those new migrations.


Organized by the Department of Philosophy and Sociology and three French research centers from the CNRS (GEMASS, ISCC and LAMES)


The International Conference “New Academic and Scientific Migrations in the South” organized by the Department of Philosophy and Sociology (Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), the EAST department from ISCC (CNRS, France), the GEMASS (CNRS, France) and the LAMES (UMR 7305, Aix Marseille Université-CNRS, France) aims at overcoming some of the shortcomings of the sociology of science and of higher education regarding contemporary international scientific mobility. Those disciplines have in the past largely focused on Western developed countries as being both scientific producers and scientific attractors for academics and students from non Western countries. This conference will focus sociologically on the recent changes in academic migration patterns. We will study how emerging countries from the South have become attractive destinations for scientists and students, with a special regard for the UAE on that matter. Historically, scientists, academics and students from developing countries, or from the South in general, tended to migrate to Northern countries, whether to complete their education and training or to get a scientific job. This phenomenon has been called, in the literature, the “brain drain”. One of the issues, for countries such as China, India or the Arab countries, was whether those  newly trained and qualified individuals would, or would not, come back to their home country in order to contribute to the domestic development with new skills acquired abroad.

New trends have appeared pertaining to those issues, and both higher education and science are involved. First of all, higher education which was largely underdeveloped in Southern countries or regions, such as China, India, the Gulf countries or the MENA region has now become much more institutionally developed (especially with the development of the private sector and offshore campuses). Millions of new students from those countries now look for the best opportunities to acquire tertiary education. New education hubs, such as in Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia or the UAE, have been created, and they aim at attracting foreign students. Therefore, an academic mobility South-South and North-South has emerged. This new situation implies that students from those countries can still choose to join Northern countries but they can also from now on consider going to those new actors in higher education. The example of the UAE and its universities, is a perfect study case which has not yet been sufficiently documented from a sociological perspective. Therefore, the conference will be dedicated to a sociological study of those new students from Southern countries joining higher education systems from other countries also located in the South and we will discuss the possible evolution of such a new phenomenon.

Secondly, the scientific dominance of the Northern triad (USA, Europe and Japan) is now challenged by the emergence of new scientific actors such as China, South Korea, Turkey, and at a lesser level, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (especially the KSA and the UAE). Such a change, which is linked to the development of higher education in those countries, has also entailed new patterns in terms of scientific migrations. Scientists and academics from those countries, who have mostly been trained in Northern countries, tend to come back more easily to their home country (with, for example, special policies for them such as in China). This phenomenon has been called the reverse brain drain or “brain gain”. But other migration patterns have also been observed, because those new countries now also attract foreign scholars and scientists who contribute to the development of scientific activities there. Those scientists may come from Northern countries but also from other Southern countries which have not yet developed a comparable research system. Once again the case of the UAE is exemplary on that matter. It is a phenomenon which is relatively new and has not been studied thoroughly so far and one may wonder how it will impact the balance between major and new scientific powers in the context of a growing internationalization of science.

In order to shed light on those new scientific and academic migrations, the scientific coordinators of the conference are inviting potential contributors to submit two kinds of papers. The first one will be dedicated to the study of new student migrations. More empirical studies based on both quantitative and qualitative data are necessary to understand what attracts students to those new education hubs in Asia or in the Middle East. Who are the students going to those new institutions and countries? Can we analyze their choices in terms of new educational strategies in a globalized world of higher education? We also need a more thorough understanding of the new experiences of foreign students in those countries. Specific case studies on countries and/or institutions are welcome.

The second kind of paper will focus more specifically on scientists and academics. Is there a new “brain drain” going on and directing scientists trained in the North to those new countries? What are the social characteristics of those migrant scientists? Are new scientific capacities in those countries dependent on those foreign scientists? Does this new trend imply that those countries produce a more internationalized science? Case studies would also be crucial for understanding those new patterns in scientific migration.

The conference will take place on the 1st and 2nd of June 2016 and will be hosted by the Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).

Guidelines submission

Send an abstract of your paper (around 10 lines)

before the 1st of April

to: sebastien.natanson@psuad.ac.ae

Scientific Committee

  • Michel Dubois (GEMASS, CNRS, France) : michel.dubois@cnrs.fr
  • Sylvie Mazzella (LAMES UMR 7305, Aix Marseille Université-CNRS, France) : mazzella@mmsh.univ-aix.fr
  • Sébastien Natanson (Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, UAE) : sebastien.natanson@psuad.ac.ae

Organization Committee

  • Brigitte Coche (LAMES UMR 7305, Aix Marseille Université-CNRS , France) ;
  • Claire Cosquer (OSC, CNRS/Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi);
  • Michel Dubois (GEMASS, CNRS, France) ;
  • Sylvie Mazzella (LAMES UMR 7305, Aix Marseille Université-CNRS, France) ;
  • Sébastien Natanson (Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, UAE) ;
  • Alexander Schnell (Université Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhab, UAE)



  • Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi
    Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


  • Friday, April 01, 2016


  • migration, communauté scientifique, université, brain drain


  • Sébastien Mosbah-Natanson
    courriel : sebastien [dot] natanson [at] psuad [dot] ac [dot] ae

Information source

  • Sébastien Mosbah-Natanson
    courriel : sebastien [dot] natanson [at] psuad [dot] ac [dot] ae


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« New Academic and Scientific Migrations in the South », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, February 19, 2016, https://doi.org/10.58079/ugl

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