There is little research into small higher education institutions and international students’ choice in selecting these institutions. The purpose of this paper is to understand the factors that influence international student choices in selecting a small institution. In particular, this study compares the differences between Chinese students and other international students in selecting an institution, specifically based on sources of information used, usefulness of the information, pull motivations, and reference groups/items.
This research study examined undergraduate international students at a small-sized Canadian higher education institution. “International students” were surveyed – as the total population included all students who are studying at the institution on a study permit or a temporary resident (visitor) visa. All full-time and part-time international students attending the institution were eligible to participate in the survey regardless of their faculty or major. For the sampling process, international students at the institution were intercepted on campus using convenient sampling and personal interview method to participate in the survey. In addition, students were invited within the classroom to volunteer to complete the survey. They were able to complete either a paper-based survey or an online survey by following a hyperlink.
Results indicate that international students considered “the university’s website” as the most used information source but perceived “direct communication from the institution” as the highest ranked usefulness of the information when selecting a small institution. Further, findings indicate that international student cohorts perceived “environmental cues and educational facilities” as the most important pull motivational factor and the institution itself as the reference that has the most significant influence on student decision making.
This study was conducted on students who were surveyed following their enrolment and attendance at the institution. Students were surveyed at various stages of their undergraduate studies. As a result, some of these responses may be several years from the actual decision of selecting an institution and student recall may not be accurately reflected. In addition, examining student decision making prior to, during, and immediately following their choice of institution would most likely create better information as student attitudes and perceptions would be recorded closer to the actual decision. In addition, given that these students are attending the institution their actual experience on-campus may have impacted their responses either positively or negatively.
This study provides insight into international student choice in choosing smaller institutions. These findings can support recruitment policy and strategy for international students and may assist in enhancing institutional performance.
The study reinforces the need for policy makers, institutional leaders and recruiters to understand motivations to pursue overseas studies and to ensure push, pull, and structural factors are aligned for successful student recruitment outcomes. While there is commonality among international student cohorts, there are also significant differences that need to be addressed by institutions and destinations for international students. These findings are presented from one small higher education institution in Canada.
This study created new knowledge regarding international student decision making in choosing to study at a small higher education institution. The study compared the key factors that influenced decision making and identified differences among Chinese students and other international students. There is little research into the international student decision making and small institutions. This study provides unique insight into international student choice and influences on their decision making.
James-MacEachern, M. and Yun, D. (2017), "Exploring factors influencing international students’ decision to choose a higher education institution: A comparison between Chinese and other students", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 343-363. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-11-2015-0158Download as .RIS
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