Student destination choices in international education: exploring Brazilian students' attitudes to study abroad

Monika Foster


Increasing cross-border education and student mobility calls for a better understanding of international student destination choice and the benefits of study abroad to the students. The study reported in this paper examined Brazilian students’ attitudes to study abroad in the United Kingdom using a mixed method approach, including questionnaires and focus groups with undergraduate and postgraduate students at three universities in Brazil. The study aimed to explore the extent to which the students identify themselves with the barriers and benefits of study abroad, as discussed in the literature. The participants identify with some of the main barriers explored in the literature such as cost or homesickness, as well as the benefits such as improving English language and the cultural side of experience of study abroad. The study has also identified that the attitudes to study abroad vary between undergraduate and postgraduate students and between students from different institutions. Furthermore, the attitudes to study abroad seem to be influenced by strong family ties, opportunities to apply for scholarships and past institutional relationships between students’ own universities and the UK universities. In order to enhance Brazilian students’ interest in studying in the UK, it is recommended to focus on building positive family expectations of the benefits of study abroad, strong academic relationships between the UK and Brazilian universities, improving students’ practical understanding of the realities of studying in the UK and recognising the diverse needs of the students from such a large country.

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