International Undergraduate Student Choice of Alberta for Post-Secondary Education

International Undergraduate Student Choice of Alberta for Post-Secondary Education

Darren Howes (Medicine Hat College, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5030-4.ch015
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Abstract

In this chapter, the author provides an overview of the decision-making process that international students will go through when choosing a country, province, and ultimately, an institution for their international higher learning education. After conducting exploratory qualitative research from an Alberta perspective, it was determined that international students are influenced by (1) safety, (2) quality, (3) knowing someone locally, (4) jobs and strength of the economy, and (5) cost. Subsequently, the author will also consider the factors that would influence international students to enjoy or remain in a province after their studies. Having an understanding of the factors that influence international student choice can help the reader understand some of the marketing implications of recruiting international students to institutions and how international students end up studying in the Canadian post-secondary system.
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Background

International students have been choosing Canada as a destination for higher education for many years and this number continues to increase. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE, 2019) in 2018 there were 571, 215 international students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary schools representing a 16% increase over 2017. Research has previously been conducted in several different ways to try to understand the choice of institution by international students (Cubillo, Sanchez, & Cervino, 2006; Eder, Smith, & Pitts, 2010) and further research has been conducted to understand location choice, which means the selection of country or province where students will attend schooling (Abubakar, Shanka, & Muuka, 2010; Bohman, 2010). The challenge, however, is that the flows of students from the sending countries will change over time. In 2018, India surpassed China as the largest contributor to international students attending Canadian post-secondary institutions (CBIE, 2019). It seems that as soon as research is conducted, the flows of students tend to change. What impact will the next United States election have on international student flows? The political relationships between countries can ebb the flow of students or help to increase it. What about the impact of COVID-19 or whatever the next global health pandemic? We know that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a contagious respiratory coronavirus that impacted both Asia and Canada in 2002 and 2003, had a negative impact on international student enrollment in Canada the following year. There will always be the next thing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

International Students: International students include visa students who are studying outside of their home country.

Physical Environment: The physical environment includes the physical landscape such as mountains, air quality and weather.

Post-Secondary Institutes: Post-secondary institutions within Alberta include institutions from the six-sector model: comprehensive academic and research institutions, baccalaureate and applied studies institutions, polytechnical institutions, comprehensive community institutions, independent academic institutions, and specialized arts and culture institutions.

Saturation: The concept of determining whether data collected from focus groups or surveys is presenting any new information. If no new information is being collected, saturation has been achieved and no more data collection is required.

Push-Pull Model: The push-pull model explains the motivations, decisions, and flow of international students where push factors drive students' decision to study abroad and pull factors are characteristics of a host country that attract international students.

Higher Learning Institutions: Post-secondary institutions within Alberta include institutions from the six-sector model: comprehensive academic and research institutions, baccalaureate and applied studies institutions, polytechnical institutions, comprehensive community institutions, independent academic institutions, and specialized arts and culture institutions.

Six Sector Model: The government of Alberta’s institutional arrangement explaining the geographic region of service, main credential offerings, as well as the program, delivery, and research responsibilities the publicly funded institutes of higher learning.

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