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Journal of Population Sciences

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Call for Papers: Thematic Series on Students' University Mobility Patterns in Europe

Guest Editor (Massimo Attanasio, University of Palermo, Italy)

Education and tertiary education is one of the most important items in the European agenda, as addressed since the Bologna Process and then with the Lisbon Strategy. Over the last 25 years, university education in the EU 15 has undergone a transition from an elitist to a mass form of education. Consequently, the student population more than doubled and numbered some 12.6 million in the year 2000, constituting 5 percent of the population of working age (15 to 64). However, the rise in the student population in Europe in the last 25 years was less pronounced than in the OECD on average. This is due to the fact that, in the 1960s, university participation has been comparatively high in the EU 15 while many other OECD countries were catching up.

In particular, improving student mobility is a core goal of the European Higher Education Area and a major policy priority of the EU agenda for modernizing higher education. As stated in the 2011 Council conclusions on the benchmark for mobility, ‘learning mobility is widely considered to contribute to enhancing the employability of young people through the acquisition of key skills and competences, including especially language competences and intercultural understanding, but also social and civic skills, entrepreneurship, problem-solving skills and creativity in general’.

This call aims at collecting studies on Degree mobility (Credit mobility, as Erasmus mobility, is not of interest) at the tertiary level across and within countries (with differences across regions), as well as across tertiary education levels, as the transition to undergraduate, graduate, and PhD level. Focus is on the main factors associated with domestic mobility and Inter- country mobility, as the two typologies are rather different.

On the one hand, the shares of inward mobile students are likely to vary considerably across Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) located in the same country, which can be captured by looking at the concentration of mobility across HEIs. Bulgaria, Ciprus, Hungary and Lithuania are the countries where the highest differences across universities exist (i.e. where only a few universities receive a significant number of mobile students). Special interest is devoted to Italy where the domestic mobility is very high and on the increase in the last years. The Italian mobility is from the South towards the Center and the North of Italy. 

On the other hand, the inter-country degree mobility appears to be very concentrated in certain countries, with the top three destinations (United Kingdom, Germany, and France) covering almost 80% of the mobile student population (eight of the top 10 HEIs that receive degree mobile students are based in United Kingdom, mostly in London). A consistent number of degree mobile students come from outside the EU, as Eurostat official statistics show.

A common platform of the two types of mobility is the “description and the explanation”, which in the literature are usually classified as institutional and regional factors. Institutional factors shape university attractiveness based  on  the  nature  and  quality  of the  institutions. The main factors that might be associated with the level  of  attractiveness  of  an  institution  are  related  to  the  key activities  carried  out  by  HEIs,  i.e.  teaching, research, organization, funding sources for the students, etc. A second set of factors concerns regional characteristics. The second set relates to students migrating on the basis of consumption choices, i.e. the level of  urbanization  of  the  region,  employment opportunities and regional education systems, etc. Contributions that address the topic from a life course perspective are of interest.

The main research questions are: “Who are the students that migrate and who are the students that stay?”; “Is it true that a degree obtained abroad or in “famous” university of the native country has greater value than a degree obtained in university of the region of origin of the student?”; “Are public funds to universities related to the mobility?”; “Is domestic/interstate mobility related to better labor market perspectives?”; “Is mobility a consequence of personal and/or family dynamics, are there chain migration patterns?”; “What is the influence of the educational background and of the high school attended on student migration choices and performance?”; “Is there any high school effect, is there any “brand” university effect?”, "Where do students settle after graduation?”; “How do foreign students perform comparing to the native ones? Is it true at a domestic level or just an interstate level?”; “How do STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students perform over the different regions?”; “Is there a gender bias? When does it occur? Is there a difference at a domestic and at interstate level?”.

Potential Contributions:

Differences between domestic and inter-country mobility.

  • Students' University mobility motivations in Europe
  • University career and job achievements in the last decades.
  • Methods to depict and understand University mobility
  • Italian and European south-north migration flows and students' mobility: differences and analogies
  • Foreign students in Italy and in Europe
  • Government funds to universities and students' mobility

Submission Deadline: December 31, 2020