International students and graduates contribute €16 million in taxes to the Estonian economy

According to Statistics Estonia, in the academic year 2020/2021, international students and graduates in Estonia paid more than ever before in labour taxes.

The number of international students accounted for 11.6% (5,224) of the total number of students in Estonia and contributed a total of €16 million in the academic year 2020/2021. Approximately half (2,281 – to be precise) of the registered international students in Estonia also worked.

They were most likely to work in information and communication as well as in education. Compared with local students, they worked more often in startup enterprises, Estonia’s official statistics agency said in a statement.

“Compared [with] local students, international students were more likely to work in start-ups: 15% of working international students did so compared [with] 3% of working local students,” Kadri Rootalu, a data scientist at Statistics Estonia, said.

The international students paid €3.6 million in income tax and €7.8 million in social tax, which is an increase of more than a million euros year on year. The total tax receipts from international students who graduated in academic year 2019/2020 and continued working in Estonia was €4.5 million. There were approximately 500 international graduates of 2019/2020 in the labour market each month.

A group of international students at Tallinn University. Photo by Tallinn University.

Internships in the public sector recommended

“The most likely to benefit from the economic impact of international students and graduates are international businesses in Tallinn and to a lesser extent in Tartu,” Eero Loonurm, head of the Study in Estonia programme, said in the statement.

He added that the analysis revealed it would be important to develop measures to help international students acquire internships in the public sector. “In the developed world, international students are considered a part of the talent policies of central and local government institutions. We should seek solutions to make sure that the benefit provided by international students would extend across the whole country,” Loonurm noted.

Statistics Estonia also said that, compared with local students, international students are more vulnerable in the labour market: their contracts are less secure and their number of jobs worked is higher.

Cover: A group of international students at Tallinn University. Photo by Tallinn University.

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