University of Oulu

Niina Kotavaara, Ossi Kotavaara, Jarmo Rusanen, Toivo Muilu, University graduate migration in Finland, Geoforum, Volume 96, 2018, Pages 97-107, ISSN 0016-7185,

University graduate migration in Finland

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Author: Kotavaara, Niina1; Kotavaara, Ossi1; Rusanen, Jarmo1;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Natural Resources Institute Finland, Paavo Havaksen tie 3, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-09-03


A high level of human capital is considered as an essential precondition for economic performance and regional competitiveness. However, university regions do not always manage to take advantage of the full potential of local higher education, as they are not always able to retain university students after graduation. Previous studies have presented remarkable regional differences concerning the share of graduates who remain in their university region after graduation. Hence, this paper has focused on geographical distribution and inter-regional mobility of university graduates in Finland. Long-term migration behaviour of all university graduates who completed their master’s or equivalent degree in 2000–2015 was analysed using geographic information systems (GIS). The main finding of the paper is that university graduates in Finland are rather immobile, as the most active mobility takes places when transitioning from university to their first job. After that, the geographical distribution of the graduates is rather stable, which contradicts the general assumption of high mobility of university-educated people. Further, the migration flows are directed mainly towards the four largest city regions of the country, especially to the capital city region. Cross-migration between city regions with similar population sizes and population growth rate is marginal, and it seems that the difference in the population size and growth between the graduation region and the destination region has to be large enough to exceed the threshold for migration. Retaining university graduates seems to be especially challenging for the smallest and declining university regions.

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Series: Geoforum
ISSN: 0016-7185
ISSN-E: 1872-9398
ISSN-L: 0016-7185
Volume: 96
Pages: 97 - 107
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.07.010
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (project 255372) and Tauno Tönning Research Foundation
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 255372
Detailed Information: 255372 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.