“I don’t want my children to grow up there”: Counter-Narratives to Migration by University Students in Ghana

Keywords: international student migration, migration theory, Ghana, feminist method, youth narratives


Despite mobile students from the global south being a key feature of globalization of higher education, their voices are underrepresented in the International Student Migration (ISM) discourse. In ISM literature, the reasons and motivations for university students’ mobility is discussed as adventure, exposure to new cultures and languages, however rarely with a focus on students from the global south.  Migration studies more broadly has recently expanded beyond migrants themselves to include prospective migrants and even the society they live in. This paper builds on this development and uses narratives from undergraduate students, not necessarily prospective migrants, from Ghana to make a contribution from students in the global south to explore their migration aspirations. Ghanaian students at the public University of Ghana and private Ashesi University were interviewed in focus-groups about migration as an option. This study contextualizes students' migration aspirations within a critical view of global knowledge production, employs self-reflexive methodology with roots in feminism, and centers the students and their narratives. My findings reveal diversity and contradictions: students speak about migration in simple terminology suggesting perhaps the quotidian quality of the conversation, but also harbor distinct views on migration connected to class and identity including various reservations or indeed counter-narratives to migration.