The importance of place for international students' choice of university: A case study at a Malaysian university

Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh, Jan Marie Schapper, Gavin Alexander Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


The scholarly bias toward Western and English-speaking settings in the study of international education overlooks the experiences of international students in emerging education hubs in Asia. To redress this imbalance, this article offers insights into the crucial role of place in the study destination choices of a group of international postgraduate students currently enrolled at a Malaysian university. Findings from semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with 33 students indicated that place-and specifically the pull factors of the country of Malaysia-had a primary role in their choice of overseas university. More significant than the individual attributes of any one higher education institution, key social and cultural pull factors included the sense of Malaysia as a safe environment, shared cultural values with the students own background, the financial benefits derived from low tuition fees and low cost of living, proximity to the students home country as well as access to culturally important items such as halal and other dietary requirements. Understanding the significance of such national-level pull factors in study destination choice has important implications for the Malaysian government s strategy of competing in the global market for international students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463 - 474
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this