Factors Motivating International Students to Study Overseas

By Shirley Anne Gillett and Rachel Baskerville.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

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This paper examines the motivations of international students in studying. It uses survey results and follow-up focus group material and compares the results of international with home students. The survey asked students to identify in order the most powerful reasons they felt they were studying such as parental desire, individual achievement goals, peer group, and family pressures; the focus groups discussed the influences of personal and cultural factors in greater depth. A mixed methodology was used with the survey data analysed quantitatively and the focus groups qualitatively. The quantitative data are derived from an online survey administered to undergraduate accounting students in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. There were 273 useable responses to this survey, conducted from October 2008 – June 2009, together with qualitative discursive transcribed material from six focus groups, two at each university. It was found that both international and home students were driven by individual and personal factors rather than social factors. These results are linked to theories of motivation such as attribution theory and the expectancy value theory.

Keywords: Motivation, Learner Diversity and Identities, Expectancy Theory, Attribution, International Student

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.81-99. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 470.427KB).

Dr. Shirley Anne Gillett

Teaching Fellow, College of Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

Shirley Anne Gillett is a New Zealand born and trained primary school teacher who, as well as teaching in various New Zealand cities, also taught for some years in a number of schools in the UK. Currently, she is a teaching fellow in the University of Otago working as academic support for students studying education. Her research interests include the cultural aspects of learning, and also gender studies.

Dr. Rachel Baskerville

Professor, School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Rachel Baskerville teaches financial reporting and compliance. Her interests include research on teaching in accounting, the nexus between accounting and anthropology, regulation of international accounting standards, and researching not for profit entities. She has recently undertaken a range of studies on issues arising in translation of accounting standards.