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Title: On a Course to Migrate? Migration Aspirations among University Students in Ghana
Authors: Adomako-Ampofo, A.
Quartey, P.
Akrofi-Ansah, M.
Adu, K.H.
University of Ghana, College of Humanities Institute of African Studies
Keywords: Migration Aspirations
University Students
Issue Date: Jul-2015
Publisher: University of Ghana
Abstract: This study examines migration aspirations among university students in Ghana. My interest is in undergraduate students, a group that is largely overlooked both in African studies and migration theory. The research was focused on migration aspirations, the first stage of any migration venture, and carried out at University of Ghana, a large public university, and Ashesi University College, a small private liberal arts college. A combination of methods was employed: focus groups, an e-survey (n=506), and interviews. To understand how students view the option to migrate, I argue that an Africanist or decolonial approach must be used. Understanding student migration aspirations can be achieved by letting Ghanaian students themselves explain the phenomenon as well as by contextualizing university students’ migration narratives within global inequalities of knowledge production. The findings show that students in the Global South indeed consider migration as a life option, however, migration aspirations are volatile, often driven by the ambition for further study and return, rather than being an end in itself. While other researchers have described a “migration culture” in Ghana, my findings rather point toward an “education culture”. However, financing such student migration as well as the passport and visa acquisition processes, present barriers such that although many students say they aspire to migrate, most of them have not taken action, like applying for a passport. Hence, this study confirms research suggesting there is a gap between aspiration and ability to migrate. In addition, my research reveals other reservations to the migration option, like fear of racism and religious/moral concerns. Further, the students in my study suggest that lowereducated individuals have a stronger aspiration to migrate than highly educated individuals like themselves – I construe this view as form of “othering”, not previously found in the literature. Men and women are as likely to aspire to migrate, except for women with weak academic results who are more likely than other groups to aspire to migrate. Further, the research established that university students in Ghana use new communication tools powered by the Internet to stay in close contact with family and friends abroad. Students also discuss migration in relation to “exploring”and “enjoying” as well as describe travel similar to the “gap year” earlier described in the literature, but for students in the Global North. These results highlight that students in the Global South are generally similar to the students in the Global North in terms of migration aspirations. However, while the latter are well covered in the International Student Migration (ISM) discourse the former are not – and this is the discourse my study contributes to. While individual considerations among Ghanaian students are similar to those of students in the Global North, I argue that the migration environment is dissimilar, and to better understand the phenomenon of student migration originating from the Global South, a more holistic approach is needed, inclusive of historical, social, and political contexts. Keywords: migration aspirations, student, decolonial theory, postcolonial theory, Ghana, Global South, education culture
Description: Thesis(PhD)-University of Ghana, 2015
Appears in Collections:Institute of African Studies

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