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The Determinants of International Mobility of Students


  • Michel Beine
  • Romain Noël
  • Lionel Ragot


This paper analyzes the determinants of the choice of location of international students. Building on the documented trends in international migration of students, we develop a small theoretical model allowing to identify the various factors associated to the attraction of migrants as well as the costs of moving abroad. Using new data capturing the number of students from a large set of origin countries studying in a set of 13 OECD countries, we assess the importance of the various factors identified in the theory. We find support for a significant network effect in the migration of students, a result so far undocumented in the literature. We also find a significant role for cost factors such as housing prices and for attractiveness variables such as the reported quality of universities. In contrast, we do not find an important role for registration fees (reverse causality, signal of quality, covered by grants).

Suggested Citation

  • Michel Beine & Romain Noël & Lionel Ragot, 2013. "The Determinants of International Mobility of Students," Working Papers 2013-30, CEPII research center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2013-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea ARIU & Pasquamaria SQUICCIARINI, 2013. "The Balance of Brains: Corruption and High Skilled Migration," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013010, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Driouchi, Ahmed, 2014. "Economics of Migration of Students from the Arab Region to OECD countries," MPRA Paper 58830, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Govert E. Bijwaard & Qi Wang, 2016. "Return Migration of Foreign Students," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(1), pages 31-54, February.
    4. Paula Stephan & Chiara Franzoni & Giuseppe Scellato, 2013. "Choice of Country by the Foreign Born for PhD and Postdoctoral Study: A Sixteen-Country Perspective," NBER Working Papers 18809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Marina Murat, 2013. "Education ties and investments abroad. Empirical evidence from the US and UK," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 091, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    6. Voegtle, Eva Maria & Fulge, Timm, 2013. "The Bologna Process' impact on cross-national student mobility: A multi-method evaluation," TranState Working Papers 179, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.
    7. Katrin Oesingmann, 2016. "ifo Migrationsmonitor: Die Zuwanderung von ausländischen Studierenden nach Deutschland - ein wichtiger Faktor für die Gewinnung von Fachkräften," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 69(20), pages 51-55, October.
    8. Simone Bertoli & Jesus Fernández-Huertas Moraga, 2012. "Visa Policies, Networks and the Cliff at the Border," Working Papers 2012-12, FEDEA.
    9. Michel Beine & Simone Bertoli & Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga, 2016. "A Practitioners’ Guide to Gravity Models of International Migration," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(4), pages 496-512, April.
    10. Murat, Marina, 2014. "Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind. Education Networks and International Trade," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 53-66.
    11. Paula Stephan & Giuseppe Scellato & Chiara Franzoni, 2015. "International Competition for PhDs and Postdoctoral Scholars: What Does (and Does Not) Matter," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 73-113.
    12. Farai Jena & Barry Reilly, 2013. "The determinants of United Kingdom student visa demand from developing countries," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
    13. Arnaud Chevalier, 2014. "How to attract foreign students," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-36, July.
    14. Tomasz Gajderowicz & Gabriela Grotkowska & Leszek Wincenciak, 2012. "Does Students\’ International Mobility Increase Their Employability?," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 30.
    15. Malik Fahim Bashir & Changsheng Xu & Khalid Zaman & Ghulam Akhmat, 2014. "Key Factors Determining the Rationale for Brain Drain: An Irony Never Recovered," International Journal of Economics and Empirical Research (IJEER), The Economics and Social Development Organization (TESDO), vol. 2(8), pages 308-320, August.
    16. Bouoiyour, Jamal & Miftah, Amal & Selmi, Refk, 2014. "Brain Drain or Brain Gain? The case of Moroccan Students in France," MPRA Paper 56630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Beine, Michel & Noël, Romain & Ragot, Lionel, 2014. "Determinants of the international mobility of students," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 40-54.
    18. Vögtle, Eva Maria & Windzio, Michael, 2015. "The network of international student mobility: Enlargement and consolidation of the European transnational education space?," TranState Working Papers 190, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.
    19. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1407-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Romuald Méango, 2014. "International Student Migration: A Partial Identification Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4677, CESifo Group Munich.
    21. driouchi, ahmed & achehboune, amale, 2014. "Mobility of Students from Arab Countries and Internationalization of Higher Education with Application to Medical Studies," MPRA Paper 58858, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    student mobility; network effect; migration costs; attractiveness policy;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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