Why study abroad?:Sorting of Chinese students across British universities

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Cebolla-Boado, H ; Hu, Yang ; Soysal, Y (2018)

This research contributes to the booming literature on the mobility of international students in higher education. Specifically, it analyzes university-level factors that affect the sorting of Chinese international students across British universities. To do so, we produced a unique dataset merging university-level data from the the 2014 UK Higher Education Statistics Agency and the Higher Expectations Survey, supplemented by qualitative evidence from six focus groups which we use for illustrative purposes. Our results, using nationally representative evidence for the first time, confirmed that university prestige is the most important driver of the sorting of Chinese students across British universities, together with further effects of the broader social and cultural offerings the universities provide. Interestingly, cost of study and marketing strategies deployed by universities do not seem to drive the Chinese students’ university choices. Overall, our findings underline the importance of diffuse institutional factors such as university rankings and their taken for granted status by students themselves.
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