Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fourth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Why students travel abroad (and so many others do not): Exploring predictors and decision-making processes in study-related student travel
Frederik Ahlgrimm, Andrea Westphal, Sebastian Heck

Last modified: 09-05-2018


Over the past few years, studying abroad and other educational international experiences have become increasingly highly regarded. Nevertheless, research shows that only a minority of students actually take part in academic mobility programs. But what is it that distinguishes those students who take up these international opportunities from those who do not? In this study we reviewed recent quantitative studies on why (primarily German) students  choose to travel abroad or not. This revealed a pattern of predictive factors. These indicate the key role played by students’ personal and social background, as well as previous international travel and the course of studies they are enrolled in. The study then focuses on teaching students. Both facilitating and debilitating factors are discussed and included in a model illustrating the decision-making process these students use. Finally, we discuss the practical implications for ways in which international, study-related travel might be increased in the future. We suggest that higher education institutions analyze individual student characteristics, offering differentiated programs to better meet the needs of different groups, thus raising the likelihood of disadvanteged students participating in academic international travel.

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