The contributions of study abroad to home countries: an agential perspective

Yusuf Ikbal OLDAC*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Contributions to home country after international higher education (IHE) have long been considered within the traditional frameworks of brain drain or brain circulation. However, recent scholarship has hinted at more nuances into this issue than what has been predominantly discussed. This study focuses on IHE graduate agency to investigate the contributions of studying abroad to a home country. It builds from international-comparative fieldwork that included interviews with 50 recent Turkish IHE graduates who studied in four purposefully selected countries—Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Germany and the UK—and who either stayed or returned to their home country afterwards. The findings highlight the role of agency in IHE graduates’ contributions to their home country. Returning to the home country does not equate to contributing to it, as some participants expressed that they contribute better from abroad while others refuse to contribute even after returning. The study also demonstrates that combining individual agency with push–pull factors emanating from the home country provides a more holistic explanation, as the home country dynamics have been found to be influential on agential stances regarding contributions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1487
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number6
Early online date9 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • International students
  • International higher education
  • Agency
  • Societal contributions
  • Turkey


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