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Examining change in migration strategies over the life course of international PhD students

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  • 1 Charles University, , Czech Republic
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This article examines PhD students’ migration plans and strategies, their development over time, and the circumstances of their potential or real return within the changing life course context. The research is based on a longitudinal qualitative study conducted over six years (2012–17) among 21 international PhD students coming from developing countries, studying in the Netherlands. Results are discussed in the context of a cultural shift and the migration–development nexus. We argue that: (1) strong feelings of responsibility towards both their family and the development of their country of origin are leading factors shaping their migration strategies; (2) specialisation of their research project and its applicability in the home country also importantly influences their return potential; and (3) an apparent moral responsibility towards the home society and a willingness to help countries of migratory origin was growing stronger over the observation time (in harmony with post-materialist values the informants gained when studying in the Netherlands) along the progressing life course, which creates a broad potential for brain gain.

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