Why Swedes study abroad : A study of what motivates Swedish students at Karlstad University to study abroad
The number of students at Karlstad University, who have studied abroad, has increased for many years. The university is working towards a vision of becoming more internationally recognized among universities in Sweden and abroad. They are therefore working intensively with what the university calls the internationalization process, which is to be carried out between 2006 and 2010. This process will help them to increase the quality of education and make the students more competitive on the national and international markets. This can be done for example by offering more courses in foreign languages, introducing an international credit system and exchange programs.
The purpose of our thesis is to investigate what motivates the Swedish students at Karlstad University to study abroad. We conducted a research concerning the students at Karlstad University who studied abroad during 2007 and 2008. These students have studied in many different countries ranging from Asia to America.
We have chosen to focus on the following questions to find out why students study abroad and what the university can do to influence more students to study abroad:
• What motivates Swedish students at Karlstad University to study abroad?
• Which factors might or might not have influenced the students when they chose where to study?
• What is Karlstad University doing to influence the students, and what can they do to persuade more students to study in a foreign country?
In order to reach answers for our questions we have conducted a questionnaire and sent these to those students who were abroad in 2007 and 2008. We sent our questionnaires by E-mail and regular mail to a total of 195 students. We also interviewed the international student guidance councilor at Karlstad University in order to find out what the university is doing to motivate students to study abroad.
We have studied different theories in relation to consumer behavior and the consumer buying process. With this theory and the responses we got from the students we found out what the major factors were that motivated students to study abroad and what the university can do to influence more students to study in a foreign country.
From our findings, some major factors that influenced students to study abroad were, personal development, improve language skills and to obtain international character in their studies. In order to motivate more students to study abroad we found that it was important with communication between students who have been abroad and those who have not yet been abroad. Students who have studied in a foreign country also thought that Karlstad University must become more skilful and competent regarding the process of applying to study abroad.
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