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Student Mobility in Tertiary Education: institutional factors and regional attractiveness




Member States have committed themselves to promoting the learning mobility of young people following the 2011 Communication on an agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education system (COM(2011) 567). The Council conclusions on a benchmark for learning mobility (2011/C 372/08) specified that by 2020 ‘an EU average of at least 20% of higher education graduates should have had a period of higher education-related study or training abroad’. In this report, two types of mobility are distinguished, namely degree mobility and credit mobility, both of which are included in the benchmark. Little research has been carried out on international student mobility determinants in general and on Erasmus students in particular, especially taking into account the regional dimension of learning mobility. This report focuses on student mobility in the EU between 2011 and 2014, through the description of the main destinations of mobile students, as well as on inward mobility across and within countries (measured as the share of mobile students on total student population), with a particular focus on institutions and regions. It also analyses the main factors associated with degree and credit mobility, taking into account different tertiary education levels (i.e. undergraduate, master and PhD level), through the comparison between institutional factors (teaching and research activities of universities as well as their reputation) and regional attractiveness (level of urbanisation, employment opportunities and regional education systems). There are five main conclusions from this report. First, in relation to the most attractive destinations, degree mobility appears to be very concentrated in a few countries, while credit mobility tends to be more equally distributed across Member States. Second, degree mobility is higher than credit mobility across and within countries. Third, institutional characteristics tend to be associated with student mobility more than regional ones. Fourth, among institutional characteristics, better quality universities and those with a higher reputation are associated with a higher share of mobile students, while research orientation and excellence are more relevant for degree mobile PhD students. Fifth, among regional characteristics, the level of urbanisation of the region is an important factor in shaping students’ mobility: high-density regions have higher degree mobility rates, but a lower share of credit mobile students.

Suggested Citation

  • Mabel Sanchez-Barrioluengo & Sara Flisi, 2017. "Student Mobility in Tertiary Education: institutional factors and regional attractiveness," JRC Research Reports JRC108895, Joint Research Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipt:iptwpa:jrc108895

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    Cited by:

    1. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Belingheri, Paola & Secondi, Luca, 2021. "The research productivity of universities. A multilevel and multidisciplinary analysis on European institutions," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2).
    2. Vincenzo G. Genova & Michele Tumminello & Fabio Aiello & Massimo Attanasio, 2021. "A network analysis of student mobility patterns from high school to master’s," Statistical Methods & Applications, Springer;Società Italiana di Statistica, vol. 30(5), pages 1445-1464, December.
    3. Marco Marto & João Lourenço Marques & Mara Madaleno, 2022. "An Evaluation of the Efficiency of Tertiary Education in the Explanation of the Performance of GDP per Capita Applying Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(23), pages 1-20, November.
    4. Sara Flisi & Mabel Sanchez-Barrioluengo, 2018. "Learning Mobility II: An estimation of the benchmark," JRC Research Reports JRC113390, Joint Research Centre.
    5. Athina Karvounaraki & Sumathi Subramaniam & Hristo Hristov & Tauno Ojala & Koen Jonkers & Jeroen Huisman & Xabier Goenaga, 2018. "Mapping of European transnational collaborative partnerships in higher education," JRC Research Reports JRC111663, Joint Research Centre.
    6. Zsuzsanna Dabasi-Halász & Julianna Kiss & Ioana Manafi & Daniela Elena Marinescu & Katalin Lipták & Monica Roman & Javier Lorenzo-Rodriguez, 2019. "International youth mobility in Eastern and Western Europe – the case of the Erasmus+ programme," Migration Letters, Migration Letters, vol. 16(1), pages 61-72, January.

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    More about this item


    student mobility; university; institutional and regional attractiveness; teaching; research.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J69 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Other

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