Degree Mobility from the Nordic Countries: Background and Employability22 feb 2013
Full-degree mobility from Western countries is a topic that has been little researched. Existing literature tends to be normative; mobility is seen as an advantage per se. In this article it is questioned whether mobility is an advantage when investigating degree mobility and employability of students from the Nordic countries. Results show that students who undertake a full degree abroad constitute a selected group regarding social origin and “mobility capital.” Overall, the employability of mobile and nonmobile students is fairly similar, and there is little evidence that degree mobility enhances employability. But the mobile degree students are more likely to hold international jobs in the domestic labor market; hence mobility has an impact on “horizontal” career opportunities. Degree mobility implies a risk of brain drain, and the authors find that a substantial proportion of students from Finland, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands stay abroad after graduation. Norwegian and Icelandic students are far more likely to return to their home country. It is suggested that this pattern is not only due to labor market opportunities but also due to the structure of public support schemes. Generous support systems encourage a larger number of students to go abroad, not only the most dedicated. Widened participation is seen to result in more students returning to their country of origin.