Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Student Migration: Outcomes and Implications

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Student Migration: Outcomes and Implications

Article excerpt


The present study examined the possible correlation between six life circumstances of international students (N=124) admitted entry into the United States for the purpose of academic study and their geographic choice of location upon graduation. This paper improves upon the current literature by offering actual migration outcomes (rather than intentions), by including three factors not previously analyzed, and by considering graduate students from a new subject field. The independent variables included: duration of study, scholarship award, doctoral study, participation in optional practical training, application for a temporary work visa, and the economic classification of the student's country of origin. The dependent variable was student geographic location as of 15 May 2011, categorized as in the United States or outside of the U.S. Data from foreign student graduates (academic years 2000-2011) from 43 countries were analyzed in binary logistic regression. Results show three variables (scholarship aid, optional practical training and temporary work visa application) were significantly correlated to a graduate's choice of residence. Findings are relevant for academic institutions and government agencies interested in international education, student migration behavior, comparative data as well as strategic policies.

Keywords: international education; international student; migration; academic study; study abroad; population distribution; human geography

In a world of expanding global corporate collaborations and transnational social networks, the appeal for internationally-educated professionals has dramatically increased in the last thirty years. With that has come a remarkable surge in students pursuing foreign degrees: 0.8 million students were enrolled abroad in 1975; 3.7 million were recorded as studying outside of their country of citizenship in 2009 (OECD, 2011).

Governments, institutions, and universities stand to benefit if more can be determined about what moves highly-skilled individuals across borders. For the decision-making process in migration, considerable research remains (Mahalingam, 2006). Van der Velde and van Naerssen (2010) discussed the macro- and micro-influences on cross-border mobility, conceptualizing three thresholds as well as various keep and repel factors involved. Structural pressures as well as individual rationality impact migration. The connection between personal motivations and migration outcomes has been studied as well (Bradley, Longino, Stoller, & Haas, 2008; Whisler, Waldorf, Mulligan, & Plane, 2008). Bradley et al. (2008) found that the number in the household and the type of move affected migration intention, with the mental expectation to move predicting later mobility. A transnational comparison of five countries showed that different background variables (economic resources, age, home ownership, etc.) were a better predictor of migration behavior rather than a place-utility model of migration, which is based on the perceived cost-benefit analysis between any two locations (Simmons, 1986). Descriptive models of the process of migration and motivation have also been offered (De Jong, 2000; Hazans, 2003; Kok, 2006).

Newbold (2001) showed that within Canada, economically depressed areas were typically depleted of and not replenished by migrants. In particular, in Newbold's theory (2001, p. 35), "nonreturn migrants tend to be younger, better educated, and more highly skilled." Low retention rates were related to depressed areas with a higher turnover of residents, while in-migration rates were associated with areas having more economic viability. Newbold's study also illustrated that return migrations were "planned events," influenced by perceived cost-benefit analyses and familial input. Return migration was related to age, economic status, and family presence, among other factors. Newbold (2001, p. 23-24) argued that a "location-specific capital," namely, any current connection anchoring one's choice of location, would prove a better definition of where one considers "home. …

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