What Are the Main Factors to Influence Overseas Students to Choose Higher Education in the Uk?

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To: Stephen Malone
From: Ceci Leung
Date: 08 February 2010
Subject: Research proposal
Proposed Research Topic: What are the main factors to influence overseas students to choose higher education in the UK?

Significance of the study
As the number of overseas student in the UK’s higher education sector has expended substantially during the last 15 years. The research intends to investigate factors determining overseas student’s decision to apply for a UK university. Understanding these demands and determinants will enable both university policymakers and government to evaluate the potential for expansion overseas market and associated cost implications, thus to improve performance of higher education institutions.

Literature review
The proportion of overseas students in the UK’s higher education sector is growing rapidly for the last 15 years in response to various policy changes. These have included the lower requirement of student visa application, introduction of student loans or scholarship specified design for overseas students. The higher education sector is playing an important role in the UK economy, overseas students (from outside of the EU) are an important contributor of the higher education sector. In the 2007/8 academic year there were approximately 218,000 overseas students, having an estimated direct monetary impact on the UK economy of £2.87 billion (all figures from Vickers and Bekhradnia (2008), see also Universities UK (2008)). This positive impact, comprising university fees and living expenditures, is in addition to the fact that many overseas graduates find employment in the UK after graduation, thus adding to the pool of highly skilled labour and providing benefits for the UK economy, see Robson et al. (1997). However, there is an immediate effect of reducing the number of overseas students choosing to study in the UK after the increase in tuition fees reflecting the full cost of provision is applied to overseas students (Woodhall (1989)). As a result, universities were forced to consider the most effective strategies for regaining overseas student numbers. Meanwhile, a number of University Guides collect information on a wide range of factors that might influence student university choice, including Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) and teaching quality scores, investment in library, IT and facilities investment, cost and types of accommodation, and other factors. See HEFCE (2008) for a report evaluating five league tables. Attracting overseas students is getting more and more essential today, for financial reasons as well as for the diversity of experience that they bring to universities.

Research methodology
Rather than rely on a case study methodology as applied by Chapman and Pyvis (2006), we will use questionnaire and interview (survey) research methods as the primary source of data combine with the secondary source of dataset, UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service) of 97 UK universities from 2002 to 2007, on overseas student applications and admissions to collect information for deducing preferences for an overseas student. The two methods will complementary and show us all possible factors influencing the decision of overseas students to apply to particular universities, as questionnaires will be sent to 50 college students for aged between 16 and 18, interviews will be also conducted with some of these students and their parents, this would probably identify some invisible factors from UCAS data, such as the impact of reputation factors rather than true quality indicators on institutions, while UCAS would supplement all other visible factors that missing in the interview, and also allows us to apply regression methods to estimate the impact of and correlation of potential explanatory variables in students’ decision-making process. There is a similar set of papers examines the factors determining the decision relating to university study, Abbott and Leslie (2004) who...
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