English is the language of instruction in many universities around the world. Accordingly, English language skills, which youths of less privileged social backgrounds are often said to ‘lack’, plays an important role in the future aspirations of young people and to access and widening participation. In this paper, I argue that English is an important resource, which affects students’ mobility within and outside of their countries. Using interviews with 25 Colombian youths, some of which had finished secondary school and others were higher education students at the time of the fieldwork, my study explores the challenges and opportunities that Colombian students who plan to study abroad (including Europe) encounter in relation to English language. The findings indicate that the English capacity of the majority of the participants does not meet the English language requirements (mostly ILETS, TOEFL or GRE) of most universities with English as a medium of instruction. This ‘lack’ of English skills affects the social mobility and future aspirations of the students and, thus, their motivation to study abroad. Ultimately, the study reflects on the implications of English provision for social and academic mobility.