This article investigates the literature of highly skilled migration framed within the concepts of brain drain, brain gain or brain circulation. It argues that students are a subset of highly skilled migrants with semi-finished human and social capital. Considering the lack of studies about students from Turkey in Germany, despite 50 years of migration experience, this article is designed to fill this gap in the literature. First, it explores the German higher education context: international students in Germany and particularly those from Turkey. Next, it concentrates on students leaving Turkey to be educated abroad, and subsequently it focuses on the stay or return intentions of international PhD students from Turkey enrolled at two graduate schools in Germany.