The purpose of this paper is to achieve a better understanding of the current phenomenon regarding challenges of and potential for increased international recruitment and…
The purpose of this paper is to achieve a better understanding of the current phenomenon regarding challenges of and potential for increased international recruitment and enhancement of the teaching and learning experience in Thai HE. The focus on what made these people choose Thailand, and their actual perceptions and experiences in Thai universities, are two main foci of this paper.
A qualitative approach through narrative interviews was selected as the researchers did not want to constrain this study with preconceived notions that might unduly steer the findings. During the interviews, detailed notes were taken, and the conversations were taped recorded, and then transcribed and analysed. The analytic approach adopted was a thematic analysis. NVivo qualitative data analysis software (QSR International Pty Ltd Version 11, 2017) was used to help organise and analyse the data.
The findings show that availability of scholarships, word-of-mouth referrals, and geographical and cultural proximity to a home country appear to be important pull factors. A series of interviews with international students from many different cultures, from both developed and developing countries, yielded some surprising insights including strong research support in some disciplines and the fact that academic life is personalised in Thai universities.
The findings from this study suggested that engaging returnees as ambassadors, creating links between international student community and home student community before, during and after the education abroad experience could potentially help Thai HE to be more marketable at a global scale. International students have potentials to be future contacts for inducing the flow of international students evident by the social network or word-of-mouth referrals as one of the prominent pull factors.
The findings from this paper provide advice and guidance on how values-based, rather than purely numbers-driven strategies can help Thai HEIs across the country to be more attractive to students and to enhance their experience once they come to study in Thai HEIs.
This study will make an important critique of current theories of academic mobility that primarily focus on developed countries. Current literature in international education favours native English language countries and overlooks experiences of international students in developing countries. This study will contribute to the existing literature which is lacking in reported perceptions and experiences of international students in Asian countries, particularly the new emerging educational hub in Southeast Asia like Thailand. The paper includes experiences of students from developed countries such as Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the USA, filling in the gap in the current literature that dominantly reports experiences of Asian students in the developed English-speaking countries. Additionally, this study also reports the experiences of international students from the countries that are lesser known in the context of international education, including Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.