G. Viesti

An Analysis of the Geographical Mobility of University Students in Italy

  • Abstract

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Keywords: University; Mobility; Regional Development.

This paper analyses the geographic mobility flows of Italian students at the time of their enrolment at the University, showing the relative data, at University and regional university systems level, for the period 2007-18, for the country as a whole and with particular reference to flows leaving the South. Its traditional main features are the relevance of interregional mobility within the Centre-North (and especially in the North) and instead the moderate internal mobility in the South; the existence of flows of students moving from the South to the Centre-North and the absence of flows in the opposite direction. This paper examines, taking up the literature on the subject and presenting some new evidence, the possible reasons behind the students’ choice to enrol on a university outside the region of residence. They are more than one and strictly interconnected; the driving force of the labour market in the regions of destination seems particularly (and probably increasingly) relevant. The paper then examines the possible effects of these flows both on the regional university systems and, more generally, on the human capital endowments of the various areas of the country. They are sizable and have become more considerable over the last decade. They relate to flows of financial resources between territories, the financing of universities and the overall human capital endowment of the regions. Finally, this paper investigates the role of public policies in influencing these dynamics and the significant criticalities they determine for the development and cohesion of the country as a whole. Public policies should aim to encourage less unbalanced mobility from a territorial point of view, especially by increasing the attractiveness factors of the weaker territories – both university policies, meant in their broadest sense, and the more general development policies, in particular for their impact on the demand of skilled human capital on the part of businesses and the public sector. On the contrary, university policies in recent years have deliberately increased all the differences between university systems within the large areas of the country, significantly fostering the migration of students from the South, especially towards the North, widening imbalances and disparities.

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