International student mobility builds trust and long-term relationships for the UK around the world.

This study commissioned by the British Council investigated the cultural relations dimensions of international student mobility. We now have evidence that international student mobility (ISM) builds trust and long-term relationships around the world.

The research presents four dimensions of cultural relations influenced by ISM:

  • cross-cultural understanding and competence, 
  • development of cross-cultural networks, 
  • enhanced global perspectives,
  • language proficiency 

The development of language proficiency, intercultural understanding and ties, and global perspectives benefit the individual participating in International Student Mobility but also has wider benefits for institutions, domestic students, business as well as nations. Nations reap the benefits of increased trust and long-term partnerships. 

Our analysis shows that young people who study in the UK 

  • have more personal connections to the UK, 
  • gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the UK, 
  • trust the government and people of the UK more 

compared to similar educated young people who don’t study in the UK.

For the UK, student mobility is a cultural relations activity which involves in excess of 680K young people annually from more than 200 different countries and territories. This study takes a multi-dimensional view of the impact and benefits for individuals, institutions and nations.

For more details, please read the following documents.


Culligan, K., Incze, G., & Robinson, J. (2023). How International Student Mobility (ISM) builds trust and long-term relationships around the world. British Council.