Working international students and graduates contributed over 23 million euros in taxes in the previous academic year

Posted on 13 March 2024, 8:00

Statistics Estonia, commissioned by the Education and Youth Board, analysed for the fifth time the economic contribution of working international students and international graduates. Although the number of international degree students in Estonia was down from the previous years, international students paid 16.6 million euros in income and social tax in the academic year 2022/23, and graduates from the year before contributed 6.9 million euros. For students, this is 2.5 million euros more than in the previous academic year, while for graduates it is 1.5 million euros less.

Kadri Rootalu, data scientist at Statistics Estonia and the author of the analysis, said that in the academic year 2022/23, a little more than half of the international students in Estonian higher education institutions worked at least one day in Estonia during their studies. “Most of them worked for more than six months during the academic year,” Rootalu added.

The analysis also provides information on the tax contribution of international students and graduates based on income and social tax receipts. Last academic year, international students and graduates contributed a total of 23.5 million euros to the Estonian economy. International students paid 11 million euros in social tax and 5.6 million euros in income tax. Students who graduated in the academic year 2021/22 and stayed to work in Estonia contributed 6.9 million euros in total as labour taxes.

The most likely to work while studying are international students in information and communication technologies (ICT) or engineering, manufacturing and construction, as well as business, administration and law. For example, 70% of international ICT students worked during their studies in the academic year 2022/23.

Compared with previous years, more and more international students are working in educational institutions, particularly universities. Employment in the service sector has decreased year by year.

Working international students in Estonia by economic activity of enterprise

Eero Loonurm, head of the Study in Estonia programme at the Education and Youth Board, observes that Estonian universities and institutions of professional higher education have developed visibly over the past ten years and have, by teaching international students, helped to spread the message of Estonia's high-quality higher education to the world.

“Our higher education institutions are doing a commendable and excellent job in teaching international students, and our labour market is seeing the fruits of this. In addition to participating in the Estonian labour market, international students pay tuition fees in Estonia, consume local services and products, and invite their family and friends to visit Estonia as tourists. Based on a preliminary assessment, the economic impact of international students outweighs at least twice the investment needed by the Estonian state to teach them,” Loonurm added.

The latest report and the results of previous surveys are available on the website of Statistics Estonia.

When using Statistics Estonia’s data and graphs, please indicate the source.


For further information:

Kai Kaljumäe
Communications Partner
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9184

press [at] (press[at]stat[dot]ee)