What's the best place for me? Location-choice for S&E students in India

Metka Hercog & Mindel van de Laar


This paper examines how national migration policies and country-specific factors in receiving countries attend to a potential highly-skilled migrant when one is deciding among several possible locations. While continental European countries recognize the need to attract migrants as a key component of their economic strategies, it remained unclear to what extent the more open immigration policies led to actually increase the attractiveness of European countries to perform better at the global competition for the highly-skilled. The survey among prospective migrants in India shows that while European countries appear to be relatively attractive for study purposes, they are not perceived equally attractive as a place for a long-term stay. To overcome the risks and pick Europe as a destination, more resources and skills are necessary than for traditional immigration countries; be it in terms of existing networks abroad, higher educational level or better language skills. With less long-term migration initiatives to Europe, immigration policies and destination country-specific factors, chances to obtain citizenship and amenities of local environment become less relevant. European governments place considerable effort on integration of student migration as a part of a wider immigration strategy. This strategy is likely to prove ineffective if "probationary migrants" clearly do not see European countries as prospective work destination for the period after their graduation.

Key words: location choices; pull factors; higher education; student migration; migration policy; India

JEL classification: F22, J61, K37, I23, J24

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