Factors influencing international degree students’ study destination choice : a micro-level research on University of Oulu
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
|Online Access:||PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)|
|Persistent link:|| http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201612023191
|Publish Date:|| 2016-12-13
|Thesis type:||Master's thesis
International mobility of higher education is increasing on a global scale. In Finland, the number of international degree students and programs aimed for them has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the previous decade, and the country is looking to get its share of the international education market. Finland’s decision to introduce tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students starting in 2017 is likely to have an unpredictable effect on the diversity and structure of the international student body in Finnish universities.
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the driving factors behind international degree students’ study destination choice process. The research begins with an overview of definitions for international students and by looking at international degree students in context of Finland and University of Oulu. The theoretical framework for the research is based on Mazzarol & Soutar’s (2002) push-pull theory, which argues that the students’ study destination decision is driven by three levels of push-pull factors: 1) the push factors of the country of origin, which influences the student’s choice to study internationally rather than locally, 2) the pull factors related to the host country, which include features specific to the country that the student chooses to study in and 3) the pull factors of the institution, which are the attractive features connected to a specific institution. This micro-level research applies the push-pull theory in the context of Finland and University of Oulu.
The research investigates international degree students’ study destination choice process on two different levels. First, the factors driving the student’s decision to study internationally rather than locally, are investigated. The second aim of the research is to find out the reasons why international degree students choose to study in Finland over other prospective study destinations, and why they choose to study in University of Oulu over other higher education institutions in Finland.
The data for this qualitative research was gathered through semi-structured interviews with eight past or present international degree students studying in University of Oulu.The interview structure was constructed upon push-pull factors that existing research on the field has constructed. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using content analysis methods. The push-pull factors influencing the students’ study destination decision were then categorized under themes constructed by existing push-pull research, and the most influential factors connected specifically to Finland and University of Oulu were reported and assessed.
Pull factors specific to Finland included reputation of Finland in a specific, which was mentioned mostly by education students, the students’ desire to experience a different lifestyle and the tuition-free education. In context of University of Oulu, degree programs where the language of instruction is English and reputation of Oulu in a specific field, such as the legacy of Nokia in the field of wireless communication, were seen as attractive pull factors
Many of the students mentioned being introduced to University of Oulu through personal recommendations from students who had studied in the University in the past. This indicates the need for University of Oulu to provide a positive study experience for international students. The end of the research suggests measures that University of Oulu can take to build a network of positive learning experiences, which according to this particular research is one of the most important thing to make sure Oulu will be an attractive study destination international degree students in the future.
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