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Nina Wolfeil (2009)

Student Migration to Germany and Subsequent Return to Poland – An Analysis of Return Migration Determinants and Returnees’ Labour Market Outcomes*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 34, 3-4/2009, p. 227-252, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s01253-010-0044-z

Abstract: The research deals with return migration of international students and is interested in the determinants of return and the professional value of the experience of studying abroad. It reports results from an online survey which was run between November 2008 and March 2009 and in which 440 Polish graduates took part. These graduates had spent an exchange semester in Germany or earned a degree from a German university. The demographic and educational profile of these survey participants closely matches the characteristics of Polish educational foreigners at German universities. The return quota of the graduates surveyed shows considerable variation with regard to different student groups. The survey reports much higher retention rates for former degree-seeking students and “overstayers” than for exchange students. As one important research finding, return quotas should always include a reference to the group surveyed since they show such a high variance. Results from binary logistic regression illustrate that the probability of return is significantly positively influenced by an initial intention to return. It is negatively influenced by the length of studies in Germany. Furthermore, those students who had worked during their studies abroad show a lower propensity of return, as do those students who spent some time in Germany as an Au Pair before starting their studies. In comparison to survey results of former Erasmus students, returnees from studies in Germany assign a more positive evaluation to the professional impact of studying abroad, and use German to a huge extent in their professional lives. 14.5 % of the sample are employed in firms of German-speaking origin, 15.6 % have daily contacts with business partners from Germany, and 33.5 % speak German on a daily basis. A cluster analysis shows that especially two of the four clusters with regard to labour market positioning back home (German experts in education and business, specialists, international knowledge translators, “international career”) keep in intensive touch with German language and culture. These findings might be used by policymakers who aim to influence retention rates in target countries and return rates in sending countries. They also allow the conclusion to be drawn that a considerable share of Polish graduates educated at German universities function as bridgeheads in German-Polish relations.

* peer-reviewed article

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