Push Pull Factors Influencing International Student Destination Choice Education Essay

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The aim of the article is to find the influencing factors on international students' decision in selecting institutions and host countries .While related knowledge are well developed ,the aim of the article mentioned above is not clearly specified. The article discusses the reason why students select to study overseas. There are two reasons: one is that, positive expectation of education for raising the economic and social status, particularly higher education. The other is that less developed countries don not have enough educational facility and students can not easily get higher education. Education industry started from 1960s in western advanced countries.

To capture the patterns of international students flow globally, the authors endeavor to explain it by a combination of "push and pull" factors that may encourage students to study abroad. "Push" factors are those operating in the students' home country. These will affect students' decision to study abroad or not. While "pull" factors are those caused in the host country, these are trying to attract international students.

Though the reasons leading to study abroad were presented concisely in the introduction section, the authors fail to provide an informative outline to explain what they want to investigate in this research paper.

Literature Review For Past research

To understand international education market, the authors review previous research and identify a group of seven major factors that may influence the demand for international education. These factors include 1) shortage of higher education especially in Asia and Africa

2) the special relationship in history between host and home countries, 3) the common language between the home and host countries 4) the advanced development in science and technology 5) the small distance from home to host countries 6) people's opinion about the tertiary education system in the source country and 7) last but not least, the authors find out that the wealth and the GNP growth rate both have some influence on the demand for international education by referring to Lee and Tan(1984)the relative wealth of population and the GNP growth rate in the home country. By referring to Agarwal and Winkler (1985), the authors further identified four principal drivers, i.e., the average income per person in the home country, the cost of education, the availability of educational opportunities in the home country, and the expected return of studying abroad.

The authors also refer to McMahon's (1992) testing of push and pull model. In the push model, it illustrates that the level of wealth in one economy, the world status of the developing country, the degree of the importance of the education in home country, and the education availability all play important roles on the demand for international education. In the pull model, the factors in the host country that could influence international students are the relative economy size between the two countries, the economic connectivity between home and host countries, the political interest of the host country to the home country, and the scholarship provided by the host country.

The authors also summarize the finding of two paper published by the first author Mazzarol in 1997-98. When selecting a final study destination, students generally go through at least three distinct stages, i.e., deciding to study overseas, choosing a host country, and finding a host institution. Push factors play an important role in making the decision of studying overseas, whereas pull factors may have impact on chosen the host country and institution. The pull factors for making a host country attractive include 1) the general acknowledgement of the host country, 2) recommendations obtained by the students, 3) education cost, 4) the environment of the host country, 5) the advantage of geography, and 6) social links. The pull factors for making a host institute attractive include 1) an institution's reputation for quality, 2) market profile, 3) range of courses, 4) alliances or coalitions, 5) offshore teaching programs, 6) staff expertise, 7) degree of innovation, 8) use of information technology, 9) resources, 10) size of the alumni base, and 11) promotion and marketing efforts.

The authors have presented a comprehensive literature review, covering most of the important factors influencing the international student flow. In particular, by referring to a pull-push model, the authors have identified a set of push factors encouraging students to seek to undertake study overseas. They also have ascertained two sets of pull factors, making a particular host country and host institution attractive.

Research Results Reported Including Research Method and Data Collection

The study involved mostly quantitative method but also use some qualitative method.

Questionnaire data collection method is used in the study. In this study, three steps of the data collection were used. The first is surveying Indonesian and Taiwanese students. The second is surveying Indian students. The third one is surveying Chinese students. The authors collected data through questionnaires. All the questionnaires were distributed to the investigators as their first language. All the three surveys used the same questions in order to make a comparison. Before the formal investigation, focus group discussions were carried out.

In this section, the authors try to ascertain factors influencing international students to choose host institutions through a discriminate analysis which was used to compare international and local students' opinions. At least, two concerns are identified. First, the authors mention that a seven point rating scale is a metrical scale, which is not correct. Technically, it is an ordinal scale.

Secondly, although the study includes 17 variables which will influence the students' choice of institution, a few important factors that were of importance to international students have not been highlighted and discussed by the authors. These factors include "offering a broad range of course and programs", "making use of the latest IT", and "a reputation for being responsive to student needs", "well known for innovation in research and teaching", and "a large campus and excellent facilities". The authors seem to ignore to discuss them in this section, simply because these factors are equally important to local students.

The research result was also reported by the author by identifying the four most important "push" factors that affect the choice of international education. These four factors are students' understanding of the overseas course, the difficulty of entering to local programs, students' interest of western culture, and the motivation of migration. The authors think that these factors are important issues for educational institutions to consider when developing an international marketing strategy.

The paper also discussed other influencing elements in the students' choice of the host country, such as the acknowledgement of one country, the recommendations, alumni influence, the various kinds of studying cost, and the natural environment.

In general, the discussion fail to yield much practical implications as what a good research paper should achieve in the discussion part. The authors seem to repeat what they have presented in the previous section. Very rarely, the authors discussed the findings of the survey and presented their implications to the Australian international education market. For example, when social costs and better knowledge awareness of a host country were recognized as important factors, the authors fail to discuss how the Australian government should utilize these findings and act to attract more international students to study in Australia. Marketing strategies such as painting Australia as a safe study destination and advertising Australia and Australian universities in prospective overseas markets would be very helpful. The same problems also took place in the section that the authors discussed factors influencing the attractiveness of a particular host institution.

Comment on the Authors 'Conclusion Drawn from the Literature Review and data Collected

The author states in his conclusion that the government and their institutions need to pay particular attention to the "push-pull" factors because they play important roles in the students' choice of host country. This is clearly drawn from the literature reviews and data collected.

Then the author mentioned that the supply of the international students is increasing in the Asian countries. The traditional "push" factors will less important than before. This is not mentioned in the literature review and not drawn from the research of data. But the author step forward concluding based on this fact saying that the host countries should pay attention to the "pull" factors. Further, the authors remind that the personal recommendation and quality education are the key factors in the students' decision of host country and institutions. Of these, we think it is only a reasonable but not high quality conclusion drawn from the literature review and the data collected.