Andrea Rotenberg

Report: International students contributed €14 million and alumni over €8 million in taxes

Statistics Estonia analysed the economic contribution of working international students and international graduates in Estonia. The analysis, commissioned by the Education and Youth Board, shows that, in the academic year 2021/22, international degree students contributed 14 million euros and international graduates over 8 million euros in taxes.

Key findings from the report:

  • More than half (56%) of the international students in Estonia work during their studies, whereas 86% of the local students do.
  • Long-term work (over 90 days) is predominant among both local and international students.
  • International students in information and communication technologies (ICT) or engineering, manufacturing and construction, business, administration and law are more likely to work.
  • The average monthly gross payments to international students were lower than those made to locals (a total of €1,273 and €1,352 per month, respectively). For both groups, the payments have increased compared with the previous academic year.
  • In the academic year following graduation, 63% of international graduates worked in Estonia. The proportion of international graduates who have stayed to work in Estonia increased significantly in the last year.
  • Graduates of ICT and engineering, manufacturing and construction stay working in Estonia more often than others. This is probably partly due to the abundance of companies with an international working environment suitable for graduates in these fields.
  • It is not common for international graduates to earn a living solely from short-term work stints. The majority of working international graduates are (also) employed on the basis of an employment contract.
  • The average monthly gross payments to international alumni were slightly larger than those made to locals (a total of €1,875 and €1,852 per month, respectively).
  • Most international alumni work in Tallinn or Tartu.

For more, see the full report in Estonian (the summary in English is available on pages 56–58) and read the press release on Study in Estonia's website.

The University of Tartu's results

In the academic year 2021/2022, half of the international students studying at the University of Tartu worked during their studies. Compared to the universities in Tallinn, UT students work less; however, the proportion of working international students has increased over the years.

Table 1. Percentage of international students working while studying

  2019/2020 2020/2021 2021/2022
UT 39% 42% 49%
Estonia 50% 52% 56%

International students of TalTech and the University of Tartu paid the most taxes. The University of Tartu had the largest number of international students who earned income (752).

Table 2. Total payouts to international students (millions of euros)

Academic year   Total gross payouts Income tax Social tax Number of students
2019/2020 UT 4.9 0.8 1.6 564
  Estonia  21 3.1 7 2360
2020/2021 UT 5.5 0.9 1.8 595
  Estonia 23.4 3.6 7.8 2289
2021/2022 UT 8.7 1.5 2.9 752
  Estonia 28.5 4.6 9.4 2396

The proportion of international alumni who stayed to work in Estonia has increased in all higher education institutions. Over half of the University of Tartu's alumni stay in Estonia for at least a year after graduation.

Table 3. International alumni working in Estonia

  2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021
UT 44% 52% 57%
Estonia 50% 52% 63%

In the 2021/22 academic year, international students who completed their studies at TaTech and the University of Tartu paid the most income and social tax for working in Estonia.

Table 4. Total payouts to international alumni (millions of euros)

Academic year   Total gross payouts Income tax Social tax Number of students
2018/2019 UT 2.3 0.4 0.7 128
  Estonia 7.4 1.2 2.4 478
2019/2020 UT 3.2 0.6 1.1 178
  Estonia 9 1.5 3 587
2020/2021 UT 4.4 0.8 1.5 219
  Estonia 16.5 2.9 5.5 859

As of 2023, international students who have a temporary residence permit for study may work in Estonia without a separate permit as long as their work does not interfere with their studies. 

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