The article examines structural conditions that determine the direction of international student flows. The influence of two factors is widely recognized in the current discussion on international student mobility. The first one is the economic factor that influences the individual decisions of a student or his/ her family to migrate to a more prosperous country (push–pull argument). The second is derived from world system theory: students from the world periphery seek better education and go to the core countries specializing in information and high-technology production (including education). The article offers a third perspective on international student migration, which is both institutional and historical. The author focuses on the structural connections between sending and receiving countries that support student migration. Methods of network analysis are used to examine UNESCO and Russian official statistics, which show deep and stable channels of student migration. The results suggest that deep migration channels direct international students from former colonies to their respective former imperial centers. A case study of student migration from Kazakhstan to Russia is employed to describe the organization of international student flows on the micro- and meso-levels.