The developmental impact of studies abroad of alumni from the Global South and the specific role of scholarships

In this project we will shed light on the opportunities of migration, especially on migration of international students. International students are seen as highly qualified labor force, or “high potentials”, and are a special group of migrants. They are often perceived as „ideal migrants“, because they are well-educated and well-integrated when they enter the labor market. Therefore, international students are in demand by almost all countries in the world as highly skilled labor of the future. And they are a growing group! About 325.000 international students stay in Germany for a limited period for their study, and the majority of them study engineering. 

These alumni are said to play a significant role in shaping their local and global communities by leveraging their skills to drive social and economic development. When they return to their home country, they can transfer their gained know-how and networks directly back into the labor-market. When they stay in the Global North, they can form transnational networks from abroad, and contribute to the development of their countries of origin (-> “development from abroad”). These processes connect to the discussions about skilled workers shortage, brain gain, brain drain and brain circulation.

In our project, we are predominantly interested in their migration movements: how many stay in the country of study and how many return to their home country or even move to other countries? We are interested in their career paths after their studies abroad and their personal views. It is known that most alumni return to their home country, but some also work in other countries. How large is the part that remains in Germany / the US and how many return back home? Does is mean that those students who stay in Germany, are lost for the development of their home countries? And when they go back, can they achieve positions in which they can actually help? We ask the alumni, whether and how they personally contribute to the development of their countries in the Global South. What helps them to be active in developmental commitment? Do they see themselves in a role as change agents or bridge builders?

To represent the Global South, we chose Columbia, Ghana and Indonesia as countries of origin. The alumni spent at least a phase of their studies in Germany or in the USA and came with scholarship programs. For this, we gained the DAAD or Fulbright, who establish contact with them. The responses of the alumni will be collected in two ways: via an online questionnaire and via oral in-depth interviews. For the interviews, we will travel to each of the three countries in the Global South. Maybe we can meet you there in person?

The project builds on our previous project, which dealt with the support during the scholarship, the transition to work and the development contribution of the alumni. There, alumni of the KAAD program (Catholic Academic Exchange Service) from Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Colombia and the Palestinian Autonomous Territories were interviewed. The focus of the previous project was primarily on the qualitative interviews. The study showed how great the potential and how diverse the development-related work of the alumni is in the further course of their lives. Another important result is that not only the returnees, but also those who stay in Germany/the US support their country of origin. Publications from the previous project can be downloaded below. In this project, we are now further pursuing the research questions and are placing a stronger focus on the quantitative survey, in which statements can be made about the proportions and conclusions about the group as a whole.

The Project Team:



Contact details:

Prof. Dr. Uwe Hunger: uwe.hunger(at)

Dr. Sascha Krannich: sascha.krannich(at)

Ester Höhle, M.A.: ester.hoehle(at)



Krannich, Sascha and Hunger, Uwe (2022). Should they stay or should they go? A case study on international students in Germany. Comparative Migration Studies 2022, 10(1):39

Krannich, Sascha and Hunger, Uwe (2022). Exit regime for international students: The case of Georgia. International Migration 2022.

Krannich, Sascha and Hunger, Uwe (2021). Das Potential internationaler Studierender an

deutschen Hochschulen für die Entwicklung ihrer Herkunftsländer. Die Hochschule(1).

Krannich, Sascha and Hunger, Uwe (2020). Studierendenmigration und Entwicklung. Eine Fallstudie am Beispiel des KAAD. Springer VS.


Prof. Dr.

Uwe Hunger

Gebäude 22 , Raum 118
Prof. Dr.Uwe Hunger+49 661 9640-455 (Sekreteriat)
Nach besonderer Vereinbarung per E-mail


Ester Ava Höhle

Gebäude 22 , Raum 118
Ester Ava Höhle+49 661 9640-455 (Sekreteriat)