International student mobility is one of the critical aspects of internationalization of universities having its benefits as enriching lives of the students, developing mutual understanding, broadening horizons of young people, encouraging international networking and collaboration. There are a number of types of the student mobility but I will focus on the motivations of the Kazakhstani students to study abroad, thus “outgoing student mobility”.
First, nowadays, Kazakhstani students have an exceptional opportunity to go abroad and study for a semester (periods of studying are varied) since the Bologna Declaration has signed. In order to increase the percentage of students going abroad and facilitate this process a number of new tertiary education initiatives launched. For example, Academic Mobility Strategy in Kazakhstan for 2012–2020 which includes various specific goals, one of them is to make 20 per cent of all university students mobile by 2020 (Strategy of Bologna Process and academic mobility in the Republic of Kazakhstan 2012-2020, 2012).
What are the motivations of our students to receive education abroad? Of course, to answer this complex question deep analysis and research are needed. However, it is possible to touch upon some main points. First of all, researchers clearly divide factors which influence the choices of students to study abroad into two: push and pull factors (Souto-Otero, Huisman, Beerkens, de Wit, Vujic 2013; Castles & Miller 2003). Push factors are referred to the home country (country of origin) while pull factors to the host county. More specifically, push factors initiate the students to decide to go abroad due to some factors, such as lack of quality of higher education, lack of infrastructure (equipments), no scholarships in the country, political situation, heavy economic conditions, etc. The pull factors are those factors making the host country attractive and desirable to study (quality of education, reputation of the university, prestige of foreign diploma, independent life style, job opportunities, etc.). These factors reveal motivations of the students to seek ways to get better higher education abroad.
In Kazakhstan, the student’s motivations to study abroad are varied: first of all, they want to enhance and develop further their levels of knowledge. Moreover, they prefer to obtain high quality knowledge/education abroad, as sometimes they are not satisfied with the quality of higher education or want to study programs (disciplines) not included in their universities. Many students in Kazakhstan also have desire to enhance their language skills by having more interaction with foreign professors and students. Also, students encouraged to study abroad in order to improve their professional qualifications and enhance future career prospects, as the foreign diploma seems to be more prestigious and international degree can serve as a tool for successful career. In addition, another factor influencing their decision-making is to gain foreign “new” life experience.
To sum up, these motivation factors can vary and they are not stable. However, in Kazakhstan these “push” factors should be eliminated as outgoing student mobility is only one type of this complex process as “international student mobility”. It is very challenging but should not we think about how to attract foreign students to our country as well?
Castles, S. and Miller, J. M. 2003. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: Guilford Press.
Souto-Otero, M., Huisman, J., Beerkens, M., de Wit, H., & Vujic, S. (2013). Barriers to international student mobility: Evidence from the Erasmus program. Educational Researcher, 42(2), 70-77
Strategy of Bologna Process and academic mobility in the Republic of Kazakhstan 2012-2020. Ministry of Education and Science of the republic of Kazakhstan. (2012). Astana.