When Do Students Intend to Return? Determinants of Students' Return Intentions Using a Multinomial Logit Model

By Soon, Jan-Jan | International Journal of Business and Society, July 2010 | Go to article overview

When Do Students Intend to Return? Determinants of Students' Return Intentions Using a Multinomial Logit Model


Soon, Jan-Jan, International Journal of Business and Society


ABSTRACT

Using a multinomial logit model, this paper examines the determinants of when international students intend to return home upon completion of their current tertiary-level studies in New Zealand universities, that is, whether to return immediately, return after further education, return after some working stints abroad, or not return at all. Different intended return time frames will subsequently translate into a permanent brain drain, a more transitory brain circulation phenomenon or an immediate return migration. The paper finds that the return time frames are affected most by skill use opportunities, preferred type of lifestyle, work environment, initial return intention, length of stay duration in the host country and the level and discipline of study. Demographic factors such as age, gender and marital status are less important in determining the return time frames.

Keywords: Students' nonreturn/migration, multinomial logit model, return intention, brain drain.

I. INTRODUCTION

Adapting Stark's (2005) analogy, let there now be two orchestras in the world: a mediocre orchestra, and an excellent orchestra. Suppose that an orchestra player from the mediocre orchestra has been admitted into the excellent orchestra to learn more about musicianship. Upon joining the excellent orchestra, he has broader opportunities to learn from master musicians, and more performance opportunities to hone his new-found skills. Although the two orchestras' pay is equal, there is fewer learning and performing opportunities available to him back at the mediocre orchestra. He now contemplates either not returning at all or delaying his return to the mediocre orchestra.

This analogy strikes a chord with the questions addressed in this paper. This paper looks at the intended return time frames of international university-level students, that is, whether the students intend to return immediately to their home countries after finishing their studies abroad, delay their return for some education or work purposes, or not return at all (migrate permanently). As in the literature, students' nonreturn refers to whether students remain or intend to remain abroad. The paper aims to identify the determinants of such intended return time frames.

This paper contributes to the empirical literature by looking at when students intend to return home upon completion of their current studies in New Zealand. Except for a handful of qualitative studies (Baruch et al., 2007; Glaser, 1978), the literature lacks econometric studies addressing the question of when students return. Also, apart from the relatively few econometric studies on students' return time frame, a disproportionately large number of students' nonreturn literature focused on the United States as the host country. There are a handful of empirical studies on New Zealand as the host country (Gani and Ward, 1995; Brown and Connell, 2004). However, these studies are about the emigration of skilled people or brain drain into New Zealand and not specifically about students' nonreturn. Gani and Ward look at the macro-level determinants of Fijian professionals' emigration to New Zealand, while Brown and Connell examine the micro-level determinants of the migration intentions of Pacific Islander health professionals to New Zealand and Australia. A recent empirical study by Gibson and McKenzie (2009) examines which factors attract top high school graduates from New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea to migrate abroad and for those who subsequently return, which factors attract them home. Their focus is on high school graduates and return migration, which is of a different scope from this paper.

This paper differs from other studies in the students' nonreturn literature which typically look at whether or not students intend to return (Lee and Ray, 1987; Li et al.,1996; Soon, 2008) or at the intensity of their return intentions (Gungor and Tansel, 2008; Zweig, 1997). …

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