In recent decades higher education (HE) has increasingly been viewed as a key contributor to economic success in a globalised world, and has grown accordingly. Recent estimates suggest that prior to the Covid emergency of 2020, c220 million young people were taking part in some form of HE worldwide. Depending on their social and geographical origins, participants’ motivations for study abroad may be quite instrumental, aiming to improve longer-term career prospects and chances of mobility, but may also be more experiential and concerned with personal development. In practice, a small number of countries stand out as main source and destination countries for European student exchanges. Language learning has centuries-old connections with scholarly mobility. Research on the language learning associated with contemporary credit mobility can be traced back to the 1960s, and grew considerably from the 1990s, as part of a general expansion of second language acquisition research.