HiTh - Hochqualifiziert. International. Thüringen

Image: Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
Supported by the Free State of Thuringia and the European Social Fund. Supported by the Free State of Thuringia and the European Social Fund. Image: ESF

Erschließung exogener Potenziale zur Verringerung des drohenden Fachkräftemangels in Thüringen: Zur besonderen Rolle internationaler Studierender und hochqualifizierter Arbeitskräfte     

(Activating exogenous potentials to reduce the projected skill shortage in Thuringia: the special role of international students and highly qualified workers)

Silke Übelmesser, Tina Haußen, Stefan Töpfer
together with Sebastian Henn (Chair of Economic GeographyExternal link), Claudia Hillinger (International OfficeExternal link) and other

The projected demographic change in Thuringia will lead to a skill shortage with important medium- and long-term challenges. Up to now, policies have very often focused on activating endogenous potentials while largely neglecting exogenous potentials, in particular international students and qualified workers. A promising approach could include measures (1) to help international students to enter the labor market in Thuringia and (2) to raise Thuringian companies' awareness about this potential.

Against this background, the project aims at improving the capacity of Thuringian companies to attract and retain international graduates and skilled workers. Several goals follow:

  1. Realizing measures to improve this capacity in order to enlarge the skilled potential. These measures include (a) a traineeship program for international students; (b) a yearly contest among Thuringian companies to identify the best concept for cultural integration; (c) the coordination of the communication between different actors and stakeholders to realize synergies; and (d) the identification of best-practice examples.
  2. Generating a comprehensive data basis about (a) international students with a focus on their composition and their intention to stay; (b) the universities; (c) Thuringian companies' needs and expectations vis-à-vis international skilled workers; and (d) the international skilled workers themselves.
  3. Deriving recommendations for the Thuringian economy, politics and universities based on the already described measures and analyses. The aim is (a) to better link universities/students and the local and regional labor market; (b) to dismantle bureaucratic barriers; (c) to improve the integration of international students, graduates and skilled workers; and (d) to help Thuringia to better position itself as a place for international skilled workers.

Find more information on the project hereExternal link.

General Project Information (Reports)
Scientific Output (Conference, Papers)


For information on the closing conference of the project see here.


Koenings, F., T. Haussen, S. Toepfer and S. Uebelmesser (2021). Coming to Stay or to Go? Stay Intention and Involved Uncertainty of International StudentsExternal linkJournal of Regional Science 61, 329-351. (open access).

Countries compete for young talents to alleviate skilled-labor shortage. International students, who stay after graduation, allow host countries to overcome those challenges. This study investigates the factors associated with international students’ intention to stay or to go after graduation. In contrast to the existing literature, this analysis employs survey data collected at the beginning of the studies. This assures that the analysis is not distorted by attrition and provides policymakers with more time for interventions. At the same time, it requires to deal with uncertainty as the actual migration decision will only be due in a few years. This study introduces a set of uncertainty models to the migration context to account for this. It finds that the results are largely robust across the different models: lower economic growth in the home country, a stay in the host country before the studies and being enrolled in a Bachelor program instead of a Master program are significantly associated with the intention to stay with certainty. Furthermore, Master students are found to be more uncertain than Bachelor students.

Koenings, F., G. Di Meo and S. Uebelmesser (2020). University Rankings as Information Source: Do they play a Different Role for Domestic and International Students?External linkApplied Economics 52(59), 6432-6447.

So far, the effect of rankings on university choice has mostly been explored for Anglo-Saxon countries with a focus on domestic students. Using data from a medium-sized German university, we study the importance of rankings for domestic and international students. Results from an exploratory factor analysis suggest that the university position in rankings is highly relevant for both groups. Differences show up when comparing rankings and other sources of information: domestic students complement advice from classmates and alumni with rankings, while international students do this – if at all – for advice from family and friends. Interestingly, advice from authorities like teachers is substituted for rankings by international students.

Konings, F. (2021). Can there be Too Much Information? Heterogenous Responses to Information from Language ProficiencyExternal link, Jena Economic Research Papers (JERP) 2021-016, Jena.

Immigrants who have a better command of the host country’s language are more likely to be employed and earn higher wages. Using a survey experiment among international students in Germany, I investigate whether information on the monetary benefits of mastering the language of the host country influences the intention to learn that language. The results show heterogeneous responses conditional on the current level of German language proficiency. The intended participation of international students with high German language skills is not affected, students with medium German language skills are positively affected and those with low or no German language skills are negatively affected. For policy makers, seeking to increase the level of language proficiency, this surprising negative effect suggests that there can be too much information.