Keywords: University; Student Mobility; Quality of Research; Labour Market.
A relatively low geographical mobility of students in the Centre and North of Italy and a large incidence of movers from southern regions to universities located in the Centre and North are well-established features of the Italian academic system. Exploiting a novel administrative dataset on academic enrolments, this paper shows that the mobility of students has increased in recent years. We highlight that the increase in mobility, which has occurred in a period of declining entry rates, is not attributable to a change in the composition of the enrolling students. We investigate some of the main drivers of student mobility by relating regional flows to the attractiveness of universities and show that mobility is positively associated with the quality of research and teaching and with the job prospects offered by the hosting university. Student flows are instead negatively correlated with the distance between the university and the region of origin and with drop-out rates. The empirical evidence also suggests that in recent years the distance from the university of destination has become less relevant in explaining mobility, whereas the role played by university quality has increased.