Question phumuzile Business & Management

What are the disadvantages and advantages of academic tourism?

What are the disadvantages and advantages of academic tourism?

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Answer Internal Staff

Academic tourism is a term used to refer to the movement of people for the purposes of academic pursuits, primarily university education (Rodriguez, Martinez-Roget and Pawlowska, 2012).

Around 5 million students travelled abroad to study in 2014, and this number is increasing rapidly (University of Oxford, 2015). So the population of academic tourists is equivalent to the full population of Norway, Ireland and similar (CIA, 2016). Clearly then this group is a valuable market. Another factor to consider is the significant value of these tourists, as they will tend to stay for a duration of at least one academic year, and often more. Furthermore, the amount these individuals spend is relatively high, estimated (in 2013) at £11,688 per annum subsistence spending for full time international students studying in the UK (Oxford Economics, 2013). This presents a strong financial benefit for academic tourism destinations.

Another benefit for destinations is attracting a, generally, young and highly skilled potential workforce, which offers long term economic benefits (Oxford Economics, 2013). However, this also represents some of the possible downsides.

The primary problem is for the visitors’ home nations, where an effect known as ‘brain drain’ can take hold when highly skilled individuals emigrate in sufficient numbers to de-skill the country as a whole (OECD, 2016). Academic tourism can increase this effect as students gain awareness of possibilities in the destination country. This will be particularly strong if the destination country offers better wages or quality of life than the home country.

Another possible downside is the increased level of competition for higher education places for domestic individuals. International students often must pay higher fees, thus offer a better financial prospect to the university.

Thus, academic tourism must be balanced between the financial benefits and the social impacts, positive or negative, for both nations involved.


CIA, 2016, World Factbook (online), Available: [], Accessed: 13/07/16

OECD, 2016, Migration and the Brain Drain Phenomenon (online), Available: [], Accessed: 13/07/16

Oxford Economics, 2013, The Economic Costs and Benefits of International Students, Available: [!/file/sheffield-international-students-report.pdf], Accessed: 13/07/16

Oxford University, 2015, International trends in Higher Education 2015, available: [], accessed: 13/07/16

Rodriguez, X. A. Martinez-Roget, F. and Pawlowska, E., 2012, Academic tourism demand in Galicia, Spain, Tourism Management, 33, 6, pp. 1583-1590