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Ronald B. Davies, Lena S. Specht


This paper examines the impact of Brexit on international student migration. In a structural gravity model, we estimate student migration between 69 countries for counterfactual scenarios in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union one year before the referendum. This exercise reveals a decrease in exchange students studying in the UK of around 3.8% to 4.9%. While the number of non-EU students to the UK rises, a drop in EU student numbers drives this result. Similarly, 30% to 38% fewer UK students choose to study abroad. The estimated changes in international student stocks show that most other member countries lose international students and non-EU countries host more than without Brexit. Our findings provide evidence that there may be hidden costs to Brexit affecting global student exchanges that we have yet to see.

Publication Date

January 2024

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