Factors international students consider when choosing where to study

A recent article posted by Inside HigherEd, originally written by John Morgan for Times Higher Ed. talks about what motivates international students. The article reveals the results of The British Council’s Student Decision Making Survey, which includes information gathered from around 115,000 students, from 200 countries. There are three major priorities identified by international students which affect their decision of where to study abroad. The article reports that “higher quality is cited by 54.2 percent, followed by career improvement (53.8 percent) and the chance to live overseas (51.5 per cent).”

Quality outranked price as being a factor in the decision-making process of international students. Prospective students are more interested in getting value for their educational dollar (or Euro, won, yen, real, peso, etc.) than they are in finding a bargain, it seems.

The article also talked about changes in the market. Specifically, countries who traditionally have not offered courses in English are starting to do so. Nordic countries were cited as the example. If more countries start to offer formal education in English, students may be less tempted to study abroad. There will have to be something else in it for them other than learning the language. Cultural immersion, a chance to experience the world, adventure, the opportunity to travel and perhaps explore job opportunities, may become more important factors than the language alone.


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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