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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The ethics of edugration : Canada’s higher education-migration nexus Brunner, Lisa Ruth


This dissertation focuses on higher education-migration (edugration), arguing that the growing recruitment of international post-secondary students as (im)migrants is (1) a distinct form of economic (im)migration, and (2) has shifted the role of higher education in society. Presenting the Canadian context as an example, it uses a critically-informed, decolonial complexity approach to frame edugration as a wicked problem and explore its ethical complexities and paradoxes, particularly in relation to settler colonialism, surveillance, and border imperialism. Through critical policy analysis, it first demonstrates the role higher education institutions play as actors in Canada’s (im)migration regime, specifically in (1) immigrant selection, and (2) migrant surveillance and bordering. It then employs critical discourse analysis to demonstrate how higher education institutions explicitly positioned themselves as (im)migration actors by instrumentalizing their nation-building function in response to COVID-19 budget concerns. Finally, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘stress test,’ the dissertation uses a mobility justice framework to illustrate how horizons of justice – e.g. how justice is defined, and for whom/what – are often constrained by limited conceptualizations of scale. This limits our ability to recognize complicity and imagine alternative, and potentially more just, possibilities for both education and migration within a modern colonial system.

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