Despite the fact that the country hosted fewer international students in the 2020/21 academic year, the total contribution international students and graduates made to the country’s labour taxes grew.
According to Statistics Estonia, Estonia’s coffers acquired a total of €16 million from international migrants last year, up from €13 million the previous year. Researchers have found that, while the number of working international students was lower than in prior years, their wages were higher.
As per the reports, there was a 164-student decrease in overseas students in 2021/22 compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, international students continue to account for 11.6 per cent of the overall number of higher education students in the country.
International students provided €10 ($11) million to Estonia’s treasury in 2019/20, while international graduates contributed €3 ($3.27) million. The contribution of international graduates has already reached €4.5 ($4.90) million. Working international students paid €3.6 (3.92) million in income tax and €7.8 ($8.50) million in social tax in 2020/21, up from €3.1 ($3.37) million and €7 ($7.63) million, respectively, the previous year.
According to the most recent research, overseas students who are most likely to work in information, communication, and education are more likely to be employed in start-up businesses than their domestic counterparts.
While 15% of working overseas students were employed by start-ups, only 3% of working local students were. It also discovered a “significant decrease” in the number of international students working in housing and food service activities, owing mostly to pandemic-related limitations.
According to the study, international students are “more vulnerable” in the labour market than domestic pupils. Their contracts are typically less stable, and the number of jobs they work is frequently greater.
Eero Loonurm, head of the Education and Youth Authority’s Study in Estonia program, remarked that the analysis also indicated the importance of steps to assist international students in obtaining internships in the public sector.
“In the developed world, international students are considered a part of the talent policies of central and local government institutions. We should seek solutions to make sure that the benefit provided by international students would extend across the whole country,” he said.
Till now, foreign enterprises in Tallinn and, to a lesser extent, Tartu, where the working language is English, have been the most likely to gain from the economic impact of international students and graduates, he said.
International students are also enrolled in degree programs at the University of Tartu’s colleges in Pärnu, Viljandi, and Narva, he said. Loonurm recently wrote for Postimees about migration plans in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands that try to divert migration away from cities or capitals and into more regional places.
There is much to be learned from the experiences of other nations, and it would be beneficial to allow the state and society of Estonia to benefit even more from the worldwide experience gained with international students.
Estonia could be inspired by the Netherlands’ ‘Make it in the Netherlands!’ campaign, which focuses on teaching international students the Dutch language in order to attract international talent to the regional labour market, as well as New Zealand’s International Education Strategy 2018–2030, which explicitly states an aim to “share the benefits of international education with regions nationwide.”
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