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State of the Art


Empirical studies on international student mobility [1] focus primarily on the macro-level determinants of mobility choices, and they underline the influence of socio-economic and cultural conditions of theareas of origin and destination. The cost of moving abroad and quality of universities play a major role too. In contrast, studies on internal student mobility in European countries are fewer ([2] on UK, [3] onNetherlands), except for Italy, where domestic student mobility flows are almost entirely unidirectional – from South to North – mirroring internal economic migration. Internal student mobility has been mainlyinvestigated with aggregate administrative data released by the MIUR. Some studies have focused on the determinants of student performance mobility at a local level [4, 5] and examined aggregatemigration flows of students across Italian provinces. Regression or gravity models have shown that universities can be a source of a selective migration process. On the whole, these studies show that studentmobility depends not only on the local university systems (and in particular on quality indicators), but also on the local labour market conditions in areas of origin and destination [6, 7]. Individual determinantsof internal mobility have been studied mainly by exploiting survey data on upper secondary graduates and university graduates, focusing on the role played by individual factors such as family background andschooling career [8, 9]. Some recent papers have studied individual determinants of internal student mobility with MIUR administrative data at the micro level [10, 11]. Preliminary results have already shownthe great potential of studying the phenomenon at multiple levels including territory, institution, field of study, gender, type of school. A crucial issue is what happens to students once they graduate fromuniversity. Where do they employ the human capital they have acquired? A few studies investigate the factors influencing post-graduate residential outcomes [12] and labour market outcomes of movers andstayers [13]. This body of research shows that graduates in the North show more favourable early labour market performances than graduates in the South and that a substantial share of Southern studentsmoving northbound to attend university does not return to their areas of origin after degree attainment. Information is available at a much larger scale from the Almalaurea consortium, while information oninternational mobility of Italian students is very limited. The Almalaurea survey on Italian graduates is useful to analyze mobility intentions at the 2nd level degree and postgraduate mobility [14].

Although some studies have been devoted to the analysis of macro-determinants of student mobility in Italy, to the best of our knowledge there is no systematic survey trying to investigate the determinants ofmobility choices at the individual level. In literature, there are only some example of surveys on international mobility of students, especially in Europe dealing with non Erasmus mobility [15]. These papers tryto identify the attractive factors of a country, in the “market” for university students, associated to their recruitment strategies [16, 17].

Moreover, it will be interesting to explore in Italy the international debate on the relation between student mobility flows and the university system [18]. During the last decade, the Italian higher educationsystem has been transformed in accordance with quasi-market [19] and performance-budgeting literature [20] in order to increase competition and to push universities to change their strategies to increaseperformance by changing their product. This clearly emerges by looking to the funding mechanism which allocates the FFO in relation to the number of students enrolled and by using a formula-basedmechanism [21].

Nevertheless, given that the quasi-market system links resource allocation to student’ choice, and that the latter are bounded rational agents [22] and their decisions could be influenced by factors not directlylinked to university quality, quasi-market and performance budgeting systems can lead to inequalities and unfairness (for instance, the above mentioned “rich get richer” effect).

Finally, student mobility can be analyzed using network analysis. Such network analysis has been previously applied to the Erasmus Programs [23] or the international student mobility ambit [24]. The networkapproach has also been used to study the different roles of the Italian regions, in terms of hubs and authorities, for university mobility using the ANS aggregated data [25].



[1] Kahanec M., Kralikova R. 2011. Pulls of international student mobility. IZA DP No. 6233.

[2] Faggian A., McCann P., Sheppard S. 2007. Some evidence that women are more mobile than men: gender differences in UK graduate migration behavior. J Regional Sci, 47(3), 517-539.

[3] Sà C., Florax R.J.G.M., Rietveld P. 2006. Does Accessibility to Higher Education Matter? Choice Behaviour of High School Graduates in the Netherlands. Spatial Econ Anal, 1(2), 155-174.

[4] Contini D., Cugnata F., Scagni A. 2017. Social selection in higher education. Enrolment, dropout and timely degree attainment in Italy. High Educ,

[5] Enea M., Attanasio M. 2016. An Association Model for Bivariate Data with Application to the Analysis of University Students' Success. J Appl Stat, 43(1), 46-57.

[6] Dotti N.F., Fratesi U., Lenzi C., Percoco M. 2015. Local labour market conditions and the spatial mobility of science and technology university students: evidence from Italy. Rev Reg Res, 34, 119-137.

[7] Giambona F., Porcu M., Sulis I. 2017. Students mobility: assessing the determinants of attractiveness across competing territorial areas. Soc Indic Res, 133(3), 1105-1132.

[8] Impicciatore R., Tuorto D. 2011. Mobilità interna e istruzione universitaria: risorse familiari, individuali e opportunità di ascesa sociale nell’occupazione. Sociologia del lavoro, 121, 51-78.

[9] Ciriaci D. 2014. Does university quality influence the interregional mobility of students and graduates? The case of Italy. Reg Stud, 48(10), 1592-1608.

[10] D’agostino A., Ghellini G., Longobardi S. 2016. University mobility at enrollment: geographical disparities in Italy. Proceedings of the 48th Scientific Meeting of the Italian Statistical Society. Salerno, 8-10 June.

[11] Enea M. 2018. From South to North? Mobility of Southern Italian students at the transition from the first to the second level university degree. In Perna C., Pratesi M., Ruiz-Gazen A. (Eds). Studies in Theoretical and Applied Statistics. Springer.

[12] Iammarino S., Marinelli E. 2014. Education–Job (Mis)Match and Interregional Migration: Italian University Graduates' Transition to Work. Reg Stud, 49(5), 866-882.

[13] Brunello G., Cappellari L. 2005. The labour market effects of alma mater: Evidence from Italy. IZA DP No. 1562.

[14] AlmaLaurea. 2016. XIX Survey on Graduates’ employment condition.

[15] Schomburg H., Teichler U. 2011. Employability and mobility of bachelor graduates in Europe. Rotterdam: Springer.

[16] Verbik L., Lasanowski V. 2007. International student mobility: Patterns and trends. World Education News and Reviews, 20(10), 1-16.

[17] Pitzalis M., Porcu M. 2015. Passaggio a Nord. Come si ristruttura il campo universitario italiano?. Scuola Democratica, p. 711-722, ISSN: 1129-731X, doi: 10.12828/82088

[18] Ezza A., Pischedda G., Marinò L. 2017. Performance-based funding in public competition. Lights and shadows in the Italian higher education system. Journal of International Business and Economics, 17(2), 5-22.

[19] Agasisti T., Catalano G. 2006. Governance models of university systems—towards quasimarkets? Tendencies and perspectives: A European comparison. J Higher Educ Pol Manage, 28(3), 245-262.

[20] Jongbloed B., Vossensteyn H. 2001. Keeping up Performances: An international survey of performance-based funding in higher education. J Higher Educ Pol Manage, 23(2), 127-145.

[21] Giovanelli L., Rotondo F., Marinò L. 2017. A Performance Management System to Improve Student Success in Italian Public Universities: Conditions and Critical Factors of an IT System. In: Corsi K., Castellano N., Lamboglia R., Mancini D. (Eds). Reshaping Accounting and Management Control Systems. Springer.

[22] Simon H.A. 1993. Strategy and organizational evolution. Strategic Manage J, 14(S2), 131-142.

[23] Breznik K., Ragozini G. 2015. Exploring the Italian Erasmus agreements by a network analysis perspective. In Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining, 2015 IEEE/ACM International Conference, 837-838. IEEE.

[24] Shields R. 2013. Globalization and international student mobility: A network analysis. Comp Educ Rev, 57(4), 609-636.

[25] Ragozini G., Scolorato C., Santelli F. 2016. Le determinanti della mobilità degli studenti universitari campani. In Buono P., Gallo M., Ragozini G., Reverchon E., Rostirolla P. (Eds). Il sistema universitario campano tra miti e realtà. Aspetti metodologici, analisi e risultati. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

[26] Ben-Shlomo Y., Kuh D. 2002. A life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology: conceptual models, empirical challenges and interdisciplinary perspectives. Int J Epidemiol, 31(2), 285–293.

[27] De Leeuw E.D., Hox J.J., Dillman D.A. 2008. International Handbook of Survey Methodology. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum/Psychology Press.