22 SES 07 A, Internationalisation and Student Mobility Part 1
Paper Session to be continued in 22 SES 08 A
Internationalization in higher education has been one of the top issues in the agenda of educational researchers, policy makers and administrators of in individual institutions. International student mobility (ISM) has been one of most commonly investigated dimensions of higher education internationalization (Chen & Barnett 2000; Jiang, 2014; Li & Bray, 2007; Mazzarol & Soutar, 2002; McMahon, 1992). There mainly are two research strands on the ISM: (1) psychological strand -satisfaction of international student is relatively older and focuses on academic, administrative, social and cultural experiences of international students and their satisfaction with these experiences (Grey, 2002; Kondakci et al. 2016; Çetinkaya-Yıldız et al., 2011)-, and (2) sociopolitical strand -global paths ways of international students, the size of students moving from one country to another and the factors shaping the size and direction of student mobility (Barnett et al., 2016; Kondakci, 2011). However, despite the burst of studies on ISM, the issue has not been scrutinized thoroughly. Besides, ISM is very sensitive to economic, political, social and ecological developments around the world. Therefore, data-based evidence for the size and direction of student mobility around the globe and the factors motivating individual students for country choice is truly necessary for developing sound policies towards ISM. However, although the majority of student mobility is still flowing from East to the West (Barnett et al., 2016; Wei, 2013), Western discourse and perspective is very dominant in the literature. Therefore, studies are needed to reveal the case in the periphery of non-traditional destinations of ISM. Based on these arguments on recent developments on ISM, this study aimed at investigating the factors attracting international students to Turkey, a country which has been traditionally classified as a sending country in the global mobility scheme. Since ISM is shaped according to the economic, political, social and cultural developments around the globe, we utilized the World Systems Approach (Wallerstein, 1974) in this study to explain the size and direction ISM in the World. The world system theory asserts that the countries are unequally positioned in the global communication, interaction and trading (Barnett & Wu, 1995). As a result, having the leading higher education institutions, international students are typically attracted to economically developed core countries (Slaughter & Leslie, 1997; Sutton, 1993).
The world system theory, however, does not explain the student mobility between peripheral countries, or the student mobility towards regional hubs (Kondakci et al., 2017; Knight & Morshidi, 2011). Particularly the pull-push terminology was utilized to explain the cause of ISM by considering the perspective of both sending and receiving countries. In that sense, the quality of education, the diversity of academic programs, prospect of postgraduate study and prospect of finding a job (Li & Bray, 2007), visa procedures, social networks, political stability, facilitation of immigration, and language are some of the factors pulling students toward a particular host country for study abroad (Wolfeil 2009; Barnett et al. 2016). Push factors such as economic crises, war, social conflicts, and limited and/or absence of higher education opportunities push students out of their home countries (Kondakci et al., 2016). In the light of these theories, our aim is to explain the extent to which the flow of student mobility is directed towards and to understand the factors that define this flow. The findings of this study are promising to lead the research through the assets of ISM and improve the practices of European countries’ policies regarding the necessities of ISM by benefitting from the factors that foster students’ intentions to study in a particular country, whether it is among the core or the periphery countries.
This study was designed as a causal-comparative study to examine the factors defining international students’ country choice for study abroad. We particularly aimed at understanding the effect of gender, country of origin, proficiency in the country’s language and their inclination towards preferring other countries for student mobility on the factors behind choosing that specific country. The target population of this study composed the student who chose Turkey for exchange with ERASMUS program 2015 (N = 14695). In total, 912 students with a return rate of responded positively and completed the scale. A previously developed instrument with two parts was used to collect the data set. The instrument initially was developed by Kondakci, Cetinkaya, and Cakir (2009) and later on revised by Kondakci (2011). The first part of the instrument composed 20 items on background of the participants. The second part is a 35-item instrument developed to assess the reasons behind international students’ country choices for study abroad. With a Cronbach’s alpha of .92 reliability, the tool measures the rationales behind selecting a specific country for study abroad. It has 8 subscales: Academic quality, cultural interest, political ties, career opportunities, quality of life, obligations, advertisements, and accessibility. To examine the factors affecting international students’ country choice for study abroad, a set of multivariate analyses of variance has been computed. Particularly, the effects of students’ gender, countries of origin, proficiency in language of the visited country and their thoughts on choosing a different country were particularly investigated. Country of origin has been defined as a dichotomous variable where 1 refers to countries for which partnership agreements and grants are available while 0 indicate the participant is from an associate country. A distinct feature of associate countries is that they have lower GDP than the country preferred for study abroad and they suffer from serious political tensions for a long time. Proficiency in the country’s language has been measured through self-report where the participants indicated each of their reading, writing and speaking skills as either Low, Moderate, or Excellent. Finally the students’ inclination towards preferring other countries for student mobility was identified with “Did you consider another country for your study abroad?” question. Not having considered any other country than their choice is a sign of increased commitment to pursue their studies in that particular country.
To examine the factors affecting international students’ preferences while selecting a country to pursue their short- and/or long-term studies, a set of multivariate analyses of variance has been computed. Particularly, the effects of students’ gender, countries of origin, proficiency in language of the visited country and their thoughts on choosing a different country were particularly investigated. Gender was found to be a significant predictor for selecting a country for student mobility on the Cultural Interest dimension. Compared to their male counterparts (M = 2.98, SD = .79), female participants (M = 3.20, SD = .82) appear to take the culture of the country more into account while selecting a country for study. When the effect of proficiency in the language of country of mobility was examined, the findings showed that mastery of reading, writing, and speaking skills significantly affected students’ preferences in terms of considering a country for study abroad. Furthermore, mastery of these three language skills in a country’s language mattered to students in shaping their preferences specifically in terms of Academic Quality, Cultural Interest, Political Ties, Career Opportunities, Obligations, Advertisements, and Accessibility dimensions. Interestingly, while levels of reading and writing mastery make no difference in this sense, speaking mastery has been found to play a significant role in considering the Quality of Life as a point of reference for preferring a country for student mobility. The findings further revealed that if they hold a keen interest in the culture of and a positive view about the quality of life in the selected country and if their home country has stronger ties with the country of interest, international students are less likely to consider a different country for study abroad from the one s/he prefers to study in.
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