International student mobility and academic performance: Does timing matter?

Cintia Denise Granja & Fabiana Visentin


In this study, we examine the impact of exchange programs’ timing on students’ academic performance, focusing on the moment in which students travel and the length of the period spent abroad. To provide causal evidence, we exploit unique data of more than 10,000 students from a well-known and internationalized Brazilian university from 2010 to 2020. By combing Propensity Score Matching with Difference in Differences techniques, we find that international mobility impacts groups of students differently. Students who travel closer to the end of their undergraduate courses benefit the most from the mobility experience (an increase of 0.06 points on final standardized grades), while negative effects (-0.05 points) are found for those who travel at the beginning of their university program. Our results also show that, while student mobility impacts positively and significantly students who participate in programs lasting from one semester to one year (0.08 points), negative effects are associated with shorter periods abroad (-0.1 points).

Keywords: Tertiary education, international student mobility, academic performance, grades, student achievement, propensity score matching, difference in differences

JEL Classification: I23, I26, J24

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