Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Actual vs. Ideal Attraction: Trends in the Mobility of Korean International Students

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Actual vs. Ideal Attraction: Trends in the Mobility of Korean International Students

Article excerpt

Global higher education consists of "(1) global flows and networks of words and ideas, knowledge, finance, and inter-institutional dealings; with (2) national higher education systems shaped by history, law, policy, and funding; and (3) individual institutions operating at the same time locally, nationally, and globally" (Marginson, 2006, p. 1). In this multifaceted role, global higher education influences the patterns and strength of links in the emerging networks of globalization. Governments engage in the global higher education market because of the appeal of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the knowledge economy (Varghese, 2008). In this growing market, players increasingly attempt to influence the flow of knowledge, reshape tertiary education systems, and spur HEI innovation to ensure that they are receiving a net benefit.

Cross-border students represent an important currency in the flows of global tertiary education. Past research on these students has focused on marketing strategies for making destinations more attractive (Forbes & Hamilton, 2004; Verbik & Lasanowski, 2007), the decision to study abroad (Park, 2009; Salisbury et al., 2009) and the qualities that make destinations attractive, such as cost, ideology, prestige, target language and culture, employment opportunities, relative income level, and visa programs (Bodycott, 2009; Bodycott, 2012; Varghese, 2008). Flows in the international student market can be understood through the framework of push-pull factors. Push factors influence students to look abroad for education and pull factors the decision in favor of a particular destination (Mazzarol & Soutar, 2002).

The Republic of Korea (henceforth, Korea) has seen rapid social change since the end of the Korean War. After decades of economic growth, the social infrastructure, particularly education, has struggled to keep pace with the changing economic demands. In the knowledge economy, human capital has become a primary source of economic growth (Varghese 2008). Thus, for Korea's economic success to continue, the education system must foster specialized human resources needed in the private sector. Higher education has an important role to play in ensuring students acquire the skills necessary to become productive members of society. Yet in Korea, increasing numbers of tertiary students are turning to the global market for higher education. As the Korean government and HEIs attempt to retain more students, their foreign counterparts are attempting to attract more students abroad. In this situation, all parties will need a deeper understanding of pressures influencing the market for Korean tertiary students. Additionally, the Korean case may provide some insight into the future trends and preferences of outbound students from other countries in the region.

This study examines trends in the flow of tertiary students out of Korea between 2001 and 2010. In particular, this study analyzes the stakeholders in Korean higher education, the push factors contributing to outbound flows of domestic students, and the consequences of students going abroad. The study determines:

1. How does ideal interest in a destination compare with a destination's actual market share?

2. What destination pull factors influence outbound students' destination choice?

3. What does this reveal about higher education policy in Korea and popular international destinations for Korean tertiary students?

The Stakeholders

When household incomes rise and tertiary education enrollment rates grow, more students express their frustrations with domestic systems of higher education and decide to study abroad (Verbik & Lasanowski, 2007). As growing numbers of students internationally take part in cross-border higher education, the amount of resources at stake within the global higher education market grows, driving international competition among HEIs (Choudaha & Li, 2012). Market players increasingly attempt to influence the global higher education market to their benefit. …

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