Document 183549

Marta Karolina Król
MA Corporate Communication
Department of Language and Business Communication
Supervisor: René Claus Larsen
Submitted: 3rd of October 2011
I would like to express my special appreciation and thanks to Kim Niemann who is the
marketing intelligence Officer at the Danish Agency for International Education, for his valuable
guidance, motivation and support. In addition, I would like to thank him for providing me with
the necessary data which enabled me to complete this thesis.
I would also like to thank my supervisor, René Claus Larsen, for his patience and
encouragement during the research and writing process.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank all Polish students who took part in the
research for this thesis, especially four students who agreed to be interviewed after
participating in the online survey- this thesis would be lacking a significant part of information
without their feedback.
The purpose of this research is to describe and explore the reasons why the Danish Agency
of International Education had a limited success in attracting Polish students to choose
Denmark as a study destination. Additionally, it aims to find a strategy which could
improve the current state of events.
Using the ‘triangulation approach’ of combining quantitative survey questionnaires filled
out by 121 prospective students and quantitative semi-structured interviews with 4
students, a single case study is conducted. This paper employs a descriptive and
explanatory research approach and investigates the objectives of the research according to
the scientific paradigm of social constructivism.
An increase in inward full-degree mobility of Polish students may be achieved through a
better availability of the ‘Study in Denmark’ website. This involves a greater focus on the
search engine optimisation and a development of a ‘Study in Denmark’ website available in
Polish. Danish Agency for International Education should also consider attending education
fairs devoted especially to the students which are finishing or have recently finished their
upper secondary education in order to increase the number of Polish Bachelor students in
This thesis reviews current promotional activities of Danish Agency for International
Education on a Polish market with a provision of exclusive insights into the promotional
and policy materials provided by the organisation. A review of this purpose has not been
yet conducted from the academic perspective, and therefore provides both the reader and
the organisation with a new shade of light on the subject.
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1.1 Introduction...................................................................................................................................1
1.2 Presentation of the case study: Danish Agency for International Education……….2
1.3 Problem statement and research questions……………………………………………………….4
1.4 Delimitations……………………………………………………………………………………………………...5
2.1 Research strategy……………………………………………………………………………………………...7
2.2 Research purpose……………………………………………………………………………………………..8
2.3 Scientific approach…………………………………………………………………………………………..….10
2.4 Research methods and Data collection methods……………………………………………..…12
2.4.1 Triangulation method…………………………………………………………………………………........12
2.5 Data collection process……………………………………………………………………………………….13
2.5.1 Quantitative data: survey questionnaire…………………………………………………………….14
2.5.2 Qualitative data: semi-structured interviews………………………………………………..........16
2.6 Thesis structure…………………………………………………………………………………………………17
3.1 Introduction to the concept of internationalization of Higher Education………….18
3.2 Historical development of internationalisation: European perspective…………….19
3.3 Definitions of internationalisation of Higher Education…………………………………….22
3.4 Significant context: Globalisation……………………………………………………………………….23
3.5 What does Internationalisation of Higher Education include?.......................................24
3.5.1 Types of International Student Mobility (ISM)……………………………………………………26
3.6 International Student Mobility as a key factor for internationalisation…………….28
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3.6.1 Trends in ISM in Europe……………………………………………………………………………………29
3.7 National-level rationales for internationalisation of Higher Education…………….29
3.7.1 The mutual-understanding approach…………………………………………………………..........30
3.7.2 The revenue-generating approach……………………………………………………………………..31
3.7.3 The skilled-migration approach…………………………………………………………………...........32
3.7.4 The capacity-building approach…………………………………………………………………..........33
3.8 Student Decision-Making Process……………………………………………………………………….34
3.8.1 Education as a service, student as a customer………………………………………………………35
3.8.2 Model of Customer Decision-Making Process…………………………………………...…………..36 Types of decision making……………………………………………………………………………………..38 Purchase of international education as an extensive decision making……….…………39 Problem recognition, information search and alternative evaluation……….…………..40
3.9 Students’ motivations for studying abroad and choosing a study destination…….43
3.9.1 Push-pull factors………………………………………………………………………………………..............43 Push factors……………………………………………………………………………………………………44 Pull factors……………………………………………………………………………………………………..46
3.10 Partial conclusion: How do push-pull factors relate to Customer DecisionMaking Process?................................................................................................................................49
3.11 National level internationalization strategies for improving inward mobility
of international students…………………………………………………………………………………50
3.11.1 Market research and analysis of competition………………………………………………………51
3.11.2 Central Agency…………………………………………………………………………………………………..52
3.11.3 National education brand…………………………………………………………………………………..53 National education brand as a product brand……………………………………………………54 Brand name……………………………………………………………………………………....................55 Brand logo……………………………………………………………………………………………...…….56 Brand slogan………………………………………………………………………………………………...56 Brand equity…………………………………………………………………………………………………57 Brand awareness…………………………………………………………………………………………..57 Brand image…………………………………………………………………………......................................58
3.11.4 Central Website…………………………………………………………………………………………………58
Page | 3 Accessibility of central website…………………………………………………………………......59 Search engine optimization…………………………………………………………………………..…59 Google AdWords………………………………………………………………………………………….60
3.11.5 Higher Education fairs……………………………………………………………………………………..60
3.11.6 Media Campaigns…………………………………………………………………………………………….61
3.11.7 Information Offices Abroad……………………………………………………………………………...61
4.1 Poland as a priority market for international student recruitment to tertiary
institutions in Denmark………………………………………………………………………………………62
4.1.1 Background information: Denmark…………………………………………………………..……….62
4.1.2 Background information: Poland…………………………………………………………………..……63 Secondary education market………………………………………………………………………….64 Tertiary education market……………………………………………………………………………..64
4.1.3 Outward full-degree mobility of Polish students: Where do they go?.............................66
4.1.4 Statistics of full-degree students from Poland in Denmark…………………………………68
4.1.5 Rationales for internationalization: reasons for selecting a skilled-migration
4.1.6 Target market……………………………………………………………………………………………………72
4.2 Factors influencing the decision-making process and information search of
Polish students…………………………………………………………………………………………………….73
4.2.1 Push factors………………………………………………………………………………………………………73
4.2.2 Pull factors………………………………………………………………………………………………………..74
4.2.3 Primary information sources……………………………………………………………………………..75
4.2.4 Partial conclusion of findings: Discussion of primary information sources and
push-pull factors which affect need recognition and alternative evaluation………….77 Push-pull factors………………………………………………………………………………………...…77 Primary sources of information………………………………………………………………………78
4.3 Analysis of national-level strategies for increasing inward mobility of Polish
students currently adapted by Denmark and its key competitors……………….……80
4.3.1 Marketing research……………………………………………………………………………………………80
Page | 4 Competitor identification: What are the key international players on the Polish
education market?....................................................................................................................81 Competitor analysis: Analysis of education offer provided by competitors in
relation to Denmark………………………………………………………………………………………82
4.3.2 Central Agencies………………………………………………………………………………………………..83
4.3.3 National Education Brands……………………………………………………………………………….84 The Danish national education brand: “Study in Denmark”………………………………85 Analysis of the brand elements of “Study in Denmark”………………………………..………85 Analysis of Brand equity of ‘Study in Denmark: brand awareness and brand
4.3.4 Central Websites……………………………………………………………………………………….………91 ‘Study in Denmark’ website…………………………………………………………………………..……92 Analysis of competitor’s websites in relation to ‘Study in Denmark’…………….……93 Accessibility of the websites……………………………………………………………………………...95
4.3.5 Permanent offices…………………………………………………………………………………………,,,….97
4.3.6 Education fairs……………………………………………………………………………………………………97
4.3.7 Media campaigns……………………………………………………………………………………………..,,,,98
5. ANSWER TO THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS……………………………………………………………99
6. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES………………………….…………………………….101
8. APPENDENCIES………………………………………………………………………………………………….112
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FIGURE 1: Thesis structure…………………………………………………………………………………………..17
FIGURE 2: Consumer decision-making process……………………………………………………………...37
FIGURE 3: Continuum of consumer buying decisions……………………………………………………39
FIGURE 4: Three steps of student decision-making process……………………………………………43
FIGURE 5: Summary of ‘push’ factors which motivate students to study abroad……………46
FIGURE 6: Summary of ‘pull’ factors which motivate students to select a particular study
destination (country)……………………………………………………………………………………………………49
FIGURE 7: Polish graduates by the field of education (2008)…………………………………………65
FIGURE 8: Number of tertiary students and HE institutions in Poland divided by
voivodeships in the academic year 2009/10…………………………………………………………………66
FIGURE 9: Number of Polish students studying abroad in the five major countries of
destination between years 2000-2008…………………………………………………………………………..68
FIGURE 10: Distribution of Polish students enrolled in the TEIs in Europe for full-degree
studies (2007)………………………………………………………………………………………………………………68
FIGURE 11: Number of international full-degree students from Poland enrolled at Danish
TEIs in the academic years 2000/01 to 2008/09……………………………………………………………69
FIGURE 12: International students in Poland enrolled at Danish TEIs based on their study
areas and levels (2008)…………………………………………………………………………………………………70
FIGURE 13: Number of internationals employed full-time in Germany, Nordic Countries
and the rest of the EU/EEA between years 2008-2010……………………………………………………71
FIGURE 14: Expressed enthusiasm of Polish students to start a professional career in
Denmark in comparison to other international students (2008)…………………………………….72
FIGURE 15: Most important ‘push factors’ of Polish students and graduates considering to
study abroad according to the empirical study……………………………………………………………….....74
FIGURE 16: All of the ‘pull factors’ which Polish students and graduates are considering
while selecting a study destination…………………………………………………………………………..……75
FIGURE 17: Main sources of information considered by Polish students and graduates who
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want to study abroad……………………………………………………………………………………………………76
FIGURE 18: Results given to the survey question “In which country would you like to
FIGURE 19: Comparison of education offers provided by Danish HE and its
FIGURE 20: Explanation of ‘Study in Denmark’ brand slogan through descriptive key
FIGURE 21: Average monthly traffic from the ten most popular locations in Poland……….93
FIGURE 22: Functions of the competitior’s websites and the Danish website ‘Study in
FIGURE 23: Results received from given keyword searches using Google Adwords………...96
TEIs : Tertiary Education Institutions
HE: Higher Education
HEIs: Higher Education Institutions
ISM: International Student Mobility
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1.1 Introduction
Higher education has become increasingly international in the past decade on the European
contintent, as students tend to cross borders more than they did in the past, enroll at the
satellite campuses of the foreign institutions in their home countries and engage into
distance learning via the Internet to take courses at tertiary education institutions in foreign
countries. Due to this, “internationalisation is underscored as an argument for almost any
higher education reform” (Mattheou, 2010:265) and commonly accepted as a mainstreaming
activity across Europe (de Wit, 2008). One of the most important form of
internationalisation today occurs through exporting of own higher education service
through recruiting overseas students (de Wit, 2008). This type of internationalization is the
focus of this thesis.
Danish government believes that a greater internationalisation of Danish institutions of
Higher Education will ensure its future position as a competitive knowledge-based and
entrepreneurial society (FBE, 2010; Danish Agency for International Education, 2011).
internationalisation, such as revenue generation, meeting professional skill gaps, enhanced
multinational cooperation, or growing the knowledge and research economy (Santiago et al.,
2008; OECD, 2010; Rogers and Kemp, 2006, Woodfield, 2009).
However, having a significant potential to be an attractive study destination, including a
great quality of education and an excellent availability of staff and resources, it is
unfortunate that Denmark’s potential is recognized and known only by “few nearby
European countries” (Rogers and Kemp, 2006:4). One of the markets to which attractiveness
of Danish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) seems to be quite obscure is Poland. Polish
students are enthusiastic about cross-border education and in 2007 they were the 5th
biggest group with regard to full-degree mobility amongst all European countries (UNESCO,
2010). In addition, a considerable percentage of Polish adults in general is keen on a longPage | 1
Markedsstyrelsen, 2010). These characteristics (among other) make Polish students an
excellent target market for international student recruitment and retention of their skills
and competences upon graduation. Therefore, a successful national-level strategy could
increase the number of inward diploma mobility of Polish students to Denmark to enhance
its “knowledge economy” and feasibly address a problem that Denmark is currently facing at
home, such as skill shortages due to its aging population (Kemp and Roger, 2006:83).
However, as experienced so far, the Danish Agency for International Education had only a
limited success in following the current strategy to attract talented internationals from
Poland and what’s more, their numbers have dropped in 2008/09 after years of gradual
increase (see appendix 4).
Consequently, this investigation focuses on marketing a higher education brand of “Study in
Denmark” in Poland which has been established by the Danish Agency for International
Education to support and enhance the promotional activities of the organisation.
Furthermore, it aims to evaluate why Polish students are currently not particularly keen on
studying in Denmark and what promotional strategies are adapted by its competitors:
France, UK and Germany which receive considerably more students from this Central
European region. Finally, following the rationale for internationalisation adapted by the
Danish government and consequently the Danish Agency for International Education as an
organisation outsourcing its internationalisation efforts, the skilled-migration perspective is
discussed to explain particular reasons why Denmark aims to retain Polish graduates.
In this study, higher education refers to higher education institutions, if not otherwise
specified. In addition the terms Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Tertiary Education
Institutions (TEIs) are used interchangeably since they are synonymous. Due to the same
reason, the phrase “strategies for increasing inward international student mobility” is used
interchangeably with the phrase “strategies for international student recruitment”.
1.2 Presentation of a case study: Danish Agency for International
The agency was established in 2003 formerly known as ‘CVUU’, until it was renamed to
‘CIRIUS’ in 2005 and changed its name again in 2009 to ‘Danish Agency of International
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Education’ (Danish Agency for International Education, 2009, Danish Agency for
International Education, 2011a ). The agency is an authority within the Danish Ministry of
Science, Technology and Innovation, and its main responsibility is to support and promote
“internationalization at all levels of education and training systems” (Danish agency for
International Education, 2011a). This involves activities such as promoting Denmark as an
attractive study destination for international students (Rogers, 2009), trying to retain them
in Denmark for their skills and/or talents (, n.d.) and assessing
international qualifications (ibid, n.d.) to mention a few. Overall, it is authorized to control all
issues related to internationalization at all levels of Danish education (ibid, n.d.). Its
existence was a result of a broader initiative introduced by the Danish Government which
focused on “raising the profile of Denmark internationally” and included the Confederation of
Danish Industry’s “Creative Nation” campaign, the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s “Invest in
Denmark” initiative and the “Visit Denmark” tourism campaign (Rogers, 2009:16).
In 2006, the agency (then called CIRIUS) commissioned a study conducted by two
consultants, Kemp and Rogers, with the aim of “drawing up a strategy for national profiling
and marketing of Denmark as a study destination for international students” in order to make
recommendations about how to develop the Danish international strategy (Kemp and
Rogers, 2006:10). As a result, the two researches came up with a study titled “Towards a
Danish International Strategy”, which encompassed four major objectives for Denmark
(Rogers, 2009:15):
1. Strengthen the quality of the Danish HE institutions by attracting highly skilled
international students and researchers.
2. Make Danish HE institutions more attractive globally.
3. Increase the supply of highly skilled international talents on the Danish labour market.
4. Strengthen the intercultural skills of the students and the HE institutions
Different strategies has been endorsed by the Agency to meet those objectives, however one
of the most notable was the creation of Danish national education brand “Study in Denmark”
in 2008. Since the vast amount of promotional efforts, which had been or currently are
introduced by the Agency with the aim of attracting international students from Poland,
comprise “Study in Denmark” brand it is therefore an important part of this case study.
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1.3 Problem statement and research questions
The following thesis aims to investigate how Danish Agency for International Education can
attract and subsequently increase the diminishing number of Polish students who enrol at
Danish Higher Education Institutions every year. The preliminary data reveal that Denmark
is losing its market share of international students from Poland to France, Germany and the
United Kingdom. Although the agency made a considerable effort to promote itself in Poland
(such as physical presence at educational fairs, creating information brochures about study
opportunities in Denmark in Polish language and online marketing campaign), it seems like
an in-depth analysis of the needs and wants of Polish students is absolutely critical to
understand their motivations behind the decision-making processes. In this context, it is
important to note that a research discussing factors which Polish students and graduates
perceive to be important when considering to study abroad and a study abroad destination,
as well as how they obtain such information has not have been previously attempted
according to the literature review conducted for the purpose of this thesis. While discussing
the factors affecting their choice of education, it is of utmost importance to focus on
understanding why Polish students choose Denmark’s competitors over the Danish
education offer and what are the current promotional activities of competitors which are
communicated to the Polish youth market.
Therefore, the purpose of the thesis is to answer the following main question:
How can the Danish Agency of International Education use the “Study in Denmark”
brand to promote Denmark as an attractive study destination for Polish students and
increase their mobility to Denmark?
In order to answer the main question, the following additional questions have been posed:
What factors weigh most predominantly in the Polish students’ decisions to study
abroad and select a study destination?
Where do Polish students seek information about studying abroad?
What is the brand awareness of 'Study in Denmark' in Poland amongst the target
To what extend is the brand slogan applicable to the target market?
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1.4 Delimitation of the Data
Research on national-level implementation of the strategy of the Danish Agency for
International Education towards the Polish education market concerns very complex
phenomena and touches upon various fields of interest such as consumer behavior,
marketing communication and international education. In fact, the international student
recruitment on a national-level is such a broad area (already being a part of even broader
concept of internationalization) that some aspects of it, for example using Central websites
as a part of a strategy for improving international student recruitment, could become the
thesis’ topics on their own. Therefore, data delimitation was required in order to make the
study more feasible. This task involves narrowing the scope of the study (usually set by the
researcher) to ensure that the “convergent lines of inquiry remain within the boundaries of the
research question” (Thomas, Nelson, Silverman, 2010:60).
Firstly, the following thesis delimitated the sample under study to Polish students and
graduates who are currently considering to study at a full-degree programme. Therefore,
students and graduates who intend to study abroad through the multilateral programmes,
such as Erasmus, were not selected due to the scope of information required to answer the
main research question. As pointed out by Vaccaro, Smith and Aswani (2010:13), to
“determine the units of analysis in demography one must use criteria that are consistent with the
issues addressed and the situation under consideration”.
The second delimitation in this study concerns applying only a part of the model of
consumer decision-making process originally developed by Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell
(1968) used to examine the students’ decision-making process of ‘purchasing’ international
education. In particular, three out of five steps of the consumer decision-making have been
investigated in relation to potential international students, namely need recognition,
information search and alternative evaluation. Although the last two stages (purchase
decision and post-purchase evaluation) might have an impact on the decision-making of
students (Yoon, Uysal, 2005, Kozak, 2001), the additional questions aiding the main research
question of this thesis relate only to the three stages in question which are purposefully
limiting the scope of this thesis.
In addition, another delimitation of this study involves using only a fraction of the brand
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theory to describe the brand equity and elements of the Danish national education brand
(“Study in Denmark”) and further explain its recognition and image across the target market
of Polish students and graduates. Apart from discussing these matters, various aspects of the
brand theory could be touched upon, for example brand values, brand promise or brand
Another delimitated data concerns choosing the Search Engine optimization theory as the
means of measuring the availability of a Central website commonly used as one of the
national-level strategies to increase the international student recruitment. Recent literature
which refers to Internet marketing, offers a range of other approaches for assessing the
consumer behavior online and effectiveness of a website, for example Web content analysis
(Hunsinger, Klastrup, Allen, 2010), however these have not been included due to the scope
of this thesis.
Finally, the author of this thesis delimitated the data at the stage of competitor analysis and
instead of discussing five ‘pull’ factors determined as important by Polish students and
graduates in selecting a study destination, three ‘pull’ factors were analyzed with regard to
the international education offered by the competitor countries. The three factors discussed
were tuition fees, cost of living and variety of programmes with English as a language of
instruction. Discussing the remaining factors was not only beyond the scope of this thesis but
also difficult to measure, as these included possibility of learning or improving a foreign
language and possibility of finding a job upon graduation in a host country.
2.1 Research strategy
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The problem statement poses one major question regarding how Danish Agency for
Internationalization can use the Danish Higher Educational Brand “Study in Denmark” to
improve its promotional efforts in Poland and its strategies for attracting Polish students.
Author of this thesis can choose between five major research strategies in order to answer
this question, which are:
case studies, experiments, surveys, analysis of archival
information, grounded theory, ethnography, cross-sectional (Yin, 2003; Saunders, Lewis,
Thornhill, 2005).
The research strategy of this thesis is defined as a single case study, since it allows the
author to pose in-depth queries into the problem statement, such as how and why questions
(Yin, 2003:9), which results in a rich and detailed information about the investigated topic
(Daymon & Holloway 2002). Other scholars also agree that case study is a preferable
methodology when a holistic, in-depth investigation is needed (Feagin, Orum and Sjoberg,
1991). The problem statement explicitly asks for a how question and imposes the why
question as a way of finding a reason for a current state of events. In addition, Bell (2005:10)
believes that case study researcher needs to recognize that each organization has its
common and its unique features and be able to “identify such features to show how they affect
the implementation of systems and influence the way an organization functions.” Since the
main aim of this forthcoming master thesis is to suggest a new strategy of attracting
students from Poland to undertake tertiary education in Denmark with a leverage of higher
education brand created by national agency for internationalization of education, it needs to
take into account the unique features of the organization, which again makes it most
appropriate for a case study research. Another important characteristic of a case study is
that it needs no or very little controlling behavior during the research process (Yin, 2003),
which means that it is an “investigation of phenomena as they occur without any significant
intervention of the investigators” (Connaway, Powell, 2010:80).
In addition, this part of thesis would be incomplete without providing a frequently cited
definition of a case study:
“an intensive examination, using multiple sources of evidence (which may be qualitative,
quantitative or both), of a single entity which is bounded by time and place. The 'case' may be
an organization, a set of people such as a social or work group, a community, an event, a
process, an issue or a campaign” (Daymon and Holloway 2002:105).
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With respect to this definition, this case study uses qualitative and quantitative sources of
evidence to investigate the research questions. In addition, it investigates the organization
under question during a time frame of August 2008 (since the higher education brand ‘Study
in Denmark’ was established) to August 2011 (end of research for this thesis). Finally, it’s
‘case’ is a national agency for internationalization of education which operates under the
Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education.
The idea for this case study was not created by the author of the thesis herself; rather, it has
been advertised in the ASB Job and Project bank1 and responded to with a motivational
letter and a CV. The author of this thesis felt particularly connected and inspired to discuss
the topic of international education with regards to a relationship between Denmark and
Poland, being a Polish student studying in Denmark for the past two years.
2.2 Research purpose
According to Yin (2004) case studies can be used for three principal purposes of social
research: exploration, description and explanation. These purposes are not exclusive, as
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill claim: “your research project may have more than one
purpose” (2009:139) and “the purpose of your enquiry may change over time”. In a simplified
form, Blaikie (2009) defines each purpose by posing research questions which each of them
is aiming to answer:
Exploration: What might be happening? What people are involved? In what way?
Description: What is happening? What people are involved? In what way?
Explanation: What is happening? Why is it happening?
Babbie (2010) believes that an exploratory study is quite valuable in social science research.
It is essential whenever a researcher is investigating an entirely new area (Eriksson,
Wiedersheim-Paul, 2001) and it almost always yields new insights into a topic for research
(Babbie, 2010). In a summary, it aims to find out “what is happening; to seek new insights; to
ask questions and to assess phenomena in a new light” (Robson 2002:59). Kothari (2008)
suggests that the exploratory research can involve the following data collection tools:
Aarhus School of Business’ (ASB) searchable database of student/graduate jobs and projects maintained
by the ASB’s Career Centre
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reviewing published data, interviewing people, conducting focus groups, investigating
On the other hand, a descriptive study for social research is a “precise measurement and
reporting of the characteristics of some population or phenomenon under study” (Babbie,
2009:125). It allows the researcher to “develop ideas about a well-defined topic and then
describe the phenomenon in question” (Wysocki, 2008:62). Robson (2002:59) concludes that
it aims to “portray an accurate profile of persons, events or situations”. The data collection
tools for a descriptive research include surveys and fact-finding enquiries of different kinds
(Kothari, 2008:3).
Lastly, the explanatory research “seeks to identify the causes or effects of some phenomenon”
(Wysocki, 2008:62). The explanatory study moves beyond descriptive research, the latter
offering a ‘picture’ of the phenomenon under study and the former offering an explanation
to why the observed pattern exist (McGivern, 2008). In particular, the explanatory study is
concerned with “discovery and reporting of relationships among different aspects” of this
phenomenon (Babbie, 2009:125). Saunders (2009:140) replace the word phenomenon
to a “situation or a problem” and aspects of the phenomenon to “variables”, hence
establishing the following definition of explanatory research: “studying a situation or a
problem in order to explain the relationships between variables” (2009:140). An explanatory
study usually employs qualitative data collection methods, such as interviews or participant
observations (Fellow, Liu, 2008).
This thesis exhibits all of these three research purposes. As pointed out by Connaway and
Powell (2010) the case study research strategy is well suited for collecting descriptive data
making it most appropriate for a descriptive study. This is because a case study involves
collecting precise and an in-depth information of the phenomenon under study which in
return may provide a reliable and valuable description of it (ibid, 2010). However, in this
particular case, since the explanatory research implies causality between different variables,
it also suits the purpose of this thesis. This is due to the fact that this research aims to find
the relationship between promotional efforts of Danish Agency for International Education
on a Polish education market and its currently limited success in attracting Polish students
to the higher education institutions in Denmark. In addition as the literature about the
student decision-making of study destination abroad lacks a considerable amount of focus
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on the conceptualization and development of frameworks from a market-orientation
perspective, this thesis attempted to deliver an entirely new model, making it applicable to
an exploratory study (Eriksson et al., 2001). With this in mind, the research purpose chosen
for this study is defined as descriptive, explanatory and exploratory.
2.3 Scientific approach
Since knowledge is conditioned by assumptions held by the observer (Elliott, 1991:49) and
“cannot be tested on any empirical or logical grounds” (Sobh, Perry, 2005) the type of
knowledge acquired in a scientific research depends on the researcher’s choice of the
tradition, which consequently has a great impact on the selection of procedures, methods,
instruments and techniques as well as on the validity of results of the research (Saunders,
Lewis, Thornhill, 2005). Hence, the following section will discuss several paradigms 2 for
understanding social behavior and will determine a chosen paradigm that will guide the
investigation of the phenomenon of study.
According to Guba (1990:25), the positivist approach to the social world implies that
science can discover “how things ‘really are”. Hence, it is often referred to as the ‘scientific’ or
‘hard’ social science approach (Walsh, 2004). Not surprisingly, positivism originated from
physical sciences, such as physics, chemistry, astronomy etc. (Baran, Davis, 2010). Scholars
in the physical science believed that “knowledge could be gained only through empirical,
observable, measurable phenomena examined through the scientific method” (ibid, 2010:12).
Generally, positivists see ‘society’ as more important than the ‘individual’ and hence believe
that social structure of the society is more important than our understanding of social life
(McNeill and Chapman, 2005:15).
Drawing on some aspects of positivism while refusing other, Popper (1959) developed a
critical rationalist approach to the social world. According to Pooper (1959) “a critical
rationalist is a person who is dogmatic only at one point: when he decides to accept the
rationalist attitude” (as quoted in Parusnikova, Cohen, 2009:27) This attitude involves
understanding “the limits of reason” (ibid, 2009:27), and admitting that “I may be wrong and
you may be right, and by an effort, we get nearer to the truth” (Popper, 1959 as quoted in ibid,
2009:27), which reflect his believes in the positivist idea of the unity of science. His critical
method involves a trial-and-error elimination; “the method of proposing bold hypotheses, and
Babbie (2009:33) defines paradigms as “the fundamental models or frames of reference we use to organize
our observations and reasoning.”
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exposing them to the severest criticism, in order to detect where we have erred” (Popper 1974:
Another scientific method which was available to utilize by the author of this paper is social
constructivism. According to Outhwaite and Turner (2007:461), “the phase ‘social
construction’ typically refers to a tradition of scholarship that traces the origin of knowledge,
meaning or understanding of human relationships”. Therefore, it emphasizes that the role of
humans is to actively use “symbolic resources to objectify, circulate and interpret the
meaningfulness of their environments and their existence” (Lindlof, Taylor, 2002:45). Since
these ‘mental constructions’ (Guba, 1990:27) are dependent on the person who holds them,
“many constructions are possible” (Guba, 1990:25). To conclude, social constructivism is a
scientific paradigm concerned with how we are to understand human beings (Burr, 2001).
The fourth important approach to scientific method considered by the author of this thesis,
hermeneutics, helps “to understand how and why social behavior occurs in the social world”
(Stanley et. al., 2010:14). Seemingly similar to the social constructivism approach, it is
however interested in the “understanding of understanding itself, in procedures, ‘rules’,
‘patterns’, implicit premises, modes of meaning and understanding that are communicated as a
part of the socializing process of adaptation, instruction and the passing on of traditions”
(Flick, Kardorff, Steinke, 2004:95).
According to Shanks and Parr (2003), case studies are usually guided by the positivism or
social constructivism paradigms. Given the nature of this research and its objectives, which
is connecting and applying general and existing theories to a case study, this investigation is
guided by a social constructivist paradigm. The author of this thesis believes that this
paradigm reflects her own assumptions about the world in the most accurate way i.e. that
human beings are constantly objectifying and interpreting the environments around them
(Lindlof et al. 2002), hence creating ‘mental constructions’ (Guba, 1990). Moreover, the
choice of social constructivism as a scientific approach instead of positivism is evident when
selecting a survey method as one of the data collection tools (see below) for this research.
According to Buckingham and Saunders (2004), researchers who use survey methods
should not perceive themselves as ‘positivists’.
2.4 Research and data collection methods
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Research methods are often demarcated into two different types: quantitative and
qualitative methods. These two methods are frequently employed by consumer researchers
to study consumer behavior (Schiffman, Hansen, Kanuk, 2008:23) which is a main focus of
the research conducted for this thesis. Quantitative research investigates phenomena in
question by collecting numerical data that is thereafter analysed using statistical methods
(Muijs, 2004). Because of that, a quantitative research allow for the generalization of the
findings through methods such as standardized surveys and sampling (Denzin, Lincoln,
2005). In contrast, a qualitative research is employed to examine phenomena which is
usually complex by its nature and inherently the objects of the investigation cannot be
broken down into single variables but need to be studied as a whole (Flick et al. 2004). In the
qualitative research, researchers intend to “study things in their natural settings, attempting
to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them”
(Denzin, Lincoln, 2005:3).
According to Yin (1994) when conducting research for a case study six different sources of
qualitative information can be utilized: documentation, archival records, interviews, direct
observations, participant observations, and physical artifacts. Following this theory, this case
study research involves semi-structured interviews with Polish students. Although Yin
(1994) suggests that the case study approach usually refers to a group of methods which
emphasize qualitative analysis, Gable (1994:112) believes that researches “should be
encouraged to combine methods as far as it is feasible” in order to find the most accurate
solution to the problem in the case study research. This change in approach is also reflected
by Daymon and Holloway (2002) who believe that both qualitative and quantitative
methods may be employed in case study investigation. In this context, a quantitative method
used for this case study was a social survey distributed online.
2.4.1 Triangulation method
The following case study utilizes multiple types of data including quantitative and
qualitative data sources. The provision of a variety of types of evidence which addresses the
same research problem, allows the author to adapt a “triangulated” approach, which
enhances the validity of the study (Wengraf, 2001). Triangulation combines multiple
sources of evidence to create “converging lines of inquiry” (Yin 2008: 114) and in a result
allows a researcher to cross-reference information (Wengraf, 2001). Denzin (1984:291)
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provides a following definition of triangulation: "the combination of methodologies in the
study of the same phenomenon”. Numerous researchers from social sciences have asserted
that the triangulated research strategy is particularly advisable while conducting a case
study research (Brady-Whitcanack, 2006; Tellis, 1997; Denzin, 1984). This is partly due to
the fact that most researchers consider case study to be “relatively low in internal and
external validity” (Connaway and Powell, 2010:80) and as previously indicated, employing a
triangulated approach enhances a validity of the study (Wengraf, 2011). According to
Schiffman et al., (2008:23) from a perspective of a consumer research, a case study which
employs both quantitative and qualitative research methods offers “a richer and more robust
profile of consumer behavior” and the “combined findings enable marketers to design more
meaningful and effective marketing strategies”.
With regard to the case study research, Denzin (1984) divided triangulation into four types:
methodological triangulation. The following study the methodological triangulation, where
the data collection process is arranged into a systematic way of ensuring that each data
collection method is a logical consequence of a previous one (ibid, 1984). Apart from
strengthening the validity and accuracy of the study, this will also allow an easier
interpretation of the findings.
2.5 Data collection process
In order to simplify the researcher’s analysis of the findings, the following section provides
an overview of the two general research stages in data collection process of this thesis. The
first stage of the research involved distribution and analysis of the online survey especially
developed for this thesis, while the second stage comprised of the four individual interviews
conducted with students who previously took part in the survey questionnaire.
2.5.1 Quantitative data: survey questionnaire
As said above, a quantitative method used for this thesis was a social survey distributed
online. Selecting a social survey as the data collection tool suits the descriptive character of
this thesis (Kothari, 2008). This form of data collection is usually quick, cost effective and “if
the questionnaire has been well designed, data analysis presents less of a problem since
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statistics can be processed with the help of a computer” (McNeill and Chapman, 2005:25). In
addition, as explained by Czaja and Blair (2005), online surveys have become popular since
they “give people a chance to self-manage the answers”.
As indicated by Schiffman et al. (2008) survey questions can be open-ended or close-ended,
depending on the sort of data analysis the researcher is trying to use. Albeit the clear
advantages of using open-ended questions, such as an acquirement of more insightful
information, open-ended questions are more difficult to code and analyse, whereas closedended questions are relatively simple to tabulate and analyse, although the answers are
limited to the alternative responses provided (Schiffman et al. 2008:32). Having this in mind,
the survey employed for this thesis was a self-completion questionnaire containing 18 closeended questions in Polish in which the respondent ticked the appropriate answer from a list
of options (ibid, 2008). The questionnaire allowed either multiple or single answers with an
estimate time of completion of approximately 6 minutes.
In addition, the questionnaire was designed to be straightforward and assured the
respondents about their anonymity and the academic purpose of the survey. It is important
that questionnaires offer participants confidentiality since it dispels “any reluctance about
self-disclosure” (Schiffman et al 2008:32). In addition, in order to answer one of the crucial
research questions “What are the push-pull factors of Polish students in deciding to go abroad
and selecting a study destination?”, this survey employed a “Likert scale” technique to the
following survey question: “When considering a study destination, how important are these
criteria for you on scale from 1 to 5, if 1 means 'unimportant', 2 means 'of little importance',
3 means 'moderately important', 4 means 'important' and 5 means 'very important'?”. This
technique allows to assess “attitudes toward a topic by presenting a set of statements about
the topic” and asking respondents to indicate what is their opinion on each of them (Ary,
Jacobs, Razavieh, Sorensen, 2010:209). It is seen as simple to construct, more reliable than
other scales and it can be used in many cases (Kumar, 2008:108).
Moreover, the author of this paper used SurveyGizmo online survey software which
provided an option of presenting results in the statistical manner. The timeline for
administering the questionnaire was over two weeks from July 9 th to July 26th 2011. During
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this time, over 600 links3 to questionnaire were disseminated through social networking
sites, such as Facebook, Nasza Klasa4 and Polish student forums. The full questionnaire can
be found in Appendix 8.
The sample selection was executed according to the purposeful sampling technique,
“whereby a selection of those to be surveyed is made according to known characteristics” (May,
2001:95). The questionnaire asked for a very narrow group of people: polish high-school,
undergraduate and postgraduate students or graduates who are considering studying
abroad for a full-degree diploma. To assure that the survey involved a right sample,
participants were automatically disqualified if they have answered ‘No’ to the question “Are
you considering studying abroad for a full-degree diploma?”. The alternative sample
considered during the thesis research process was a group of Polish students already
studying abroad, however it has been decided that having studied abroad, this participants
would likely to provide biased answers which could jeopardize the validity of this study. This
is because as Frieden and Goldsmith (1989) suggested, the memory of the search processes
may fade away fairly promptly once the students have been studying for a period of time.
Yet, “the investigator must select a sample from which the most can be learned” (Merriam,
A total of 121 students and graduates anonymously participated in the survey during the
data collection period. With regard to their demographics, 25.6 % of participants were aged
between 15 and 18, 19.8 % of them 19 to 20 and the biggest group of participants was over
20 years old (54.5%). In addition, 33.9 % of respondents were currently enrolled to a upper
secondary school, 44.6 % of them were tertiary students and 21.5 % already graduated
(from either of these educational levels). Their geographic locations varied to a significant
extend, with a dominance of participants located in Poznan (36.7%), followed by Szczecin
(18.3%) and Warszawa (14.2%).
2.5.2 Qualitative data: Semi-structured interviews
The findings of a questionnaire survey yielded a need for a more in-depth exploration of
some of recurrent issues. Such a logical consequence of the data collection process supports
A link, or hyperlink, refers to „a piece of specially coded text that users can click on to navigate to the
webpage or element of a webpage associated with that link's code” (
4 A well-known social networking site for Polish students and graduates
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the previously discussed methodological triangulation. The in-depth exploration involved
utilizing the qualitative research methods in the form of semi-structured interviews
conducted with four selected participants who have previously taken part in the online
survey. This data collection tool adhered to the exploratory and explanatory character of this
thesis (Kothari, 2008; Fellows, Liu, 2008). By a definition, an interview occurs when “the
interviewer and respondent collaborate together to create an essentially monologic view of
reality” (Denzin, Lincoln, 2005:718). As opposed to structured interviews where questions
are predefined (ibid, 2005) and therefore limit “the social interaction between the
interviewee and the interviewer” (Saunders et al., 2009:43), semi-structured interviews are
non-standardised which allow a set of themes and questions to be covered depending on
whether a researcher wants to explore topics in further detail (Denzin, Lincoln, 2005). But,
in order to ‘go off in new directions’, the researcher needs to pay careful attention to the
respondents’ answers (Buckingham, Saunders, 2004:54).
The collection of qualitative data through the semi-structured interviews involved utilizing
Skype, which is less time consuming and more cost effective then face-to-face interviews
(Zikmund et al. 2010). In this particular case, the costs would also involve transportation of
the researcher from Denmark to Poland. However, a disadvantage of using Skype is the lack
of non-verbal communication such as body language, face expressions, etc., that face-to-face
interviews provide (ibid, 2010). The Skype interviews were conducted in English language,
which allowed avoiding a time-consuming and complex task of supposed translation from
Polish to English (Wengraf, 2001). The interview guideline was prepared prior to conducting
the interviews. Skype software called Pamela Call Recorder was employed to record the
audio and have been subsequently transcribed by the author. All of the six questions posed
during the interview were open-ended in order to encourage more detailed responses of the
participants. Overall, the interviews with four participants took approximately forty
minutes, hence around ten minutes for each participant.
Respondents were selected based on my personal connections and were both males and
females, with ages ranging from 18 to 24, and they were all located in Szczecin. With regard
to their educational background, one of the participants was attending the upper secondary
school and the rest of them were enrolled at higher education institutions.
2.6 Thesis structure
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This thesis is structured around 4 chapters as presented by the Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Structure of this thesis
Chapter 2 revolves around the concept of ‘internationalisation’ of Higher Education and will
begin with a discussion of its historical development in Europe and continue with factors
which currently shaped its state, such as globalisation. Subsequently, Chapter 2 will provide
a definition of internationalisation and rationales for it in the educational context. This
theoretical section of thesis will then explore the concept of student decision-making
process, borrowing from the framework of customer-decision making process developed by
(Engel et al., 1985). Furthermore, the push-pull model will be discussed with regard to
motivational factors of international students in deciding to move abroad to study and select
the study destination. In addition, the next, crucial part of this chapter explains the available
national-level strategies for promoting Higher Education abroad and focuses particularly on
strategies available to Central Agencies as organisations which are outsourcing the task of
promotion of national higher education systems abroad, traditionally performed by the
governments themselves.
Chapter 3 will begin with background information on the scope of Polish educational
market, providing statistics about mobility of Polish students within Europe and Polish
students’ enrolment in the HEIs in Denmark. Chapter 3 will then follow into a discussion of
why Denmark perceive Poland as one of the priority markets for international student
recruitment, and in particular, which rationale is driving Danish government to promote its
education offer to the Polish market. Subsequently, the decision-making process of Polish
students and graduates is discussed in a relation to the questionnaire conducted for the
purpose of this thesis. Chapter 3 will subsequently discuss the strategies of the key
international players on the Polish education market and compare their educational offer to
this of Danish Higher Education. This chapter will be finalised with an in-depth analysis of
current promotional strategies of the Danish Agency for International Education in Poland.
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Finally, Chapter 4 will provide the major findings concluded from the research and suggest
an improved promotional strategy of the Danish Agency for International Education which is
likely to increase the attractiveness of Danish Higher Education and hence, increase the
recruitment of Polish students to this country. Apart from conclusions, this chapter will also
discuss the limitations associated with this thesis.
3.1 Introduction to the concept of Internationalisation of Higher
It is clear that the global environment of international higher education has changed
profoundly over the past ten to fifteen years (Kehm and Teichler, 2007; IOM, 2008). As it is
commonly acknowledged, nowadays people tend to cross borders more than they did in the
past, and the issue of international mobility is becoming increasingly relevant to our
societies. With regard to international landscape of tertiary education, such a trend can be
also noted in relation to international student mobility. With over 3.3 million tertiary
students enrolled outside their country of citizenship in 2008 and with future predictions of
over 7.5 million international students by 2025 (OECD, 2010), “internationalisation is
underscored as an argument for almost any higher education reform” (Mattheou,
2010:265). Since 1990s, the provision of education services across borders has considerably
extended mainly “due to the demand for highly skilled and internationally oriented foreign
students” (Knight, 2008). Consequently, this demand brought new competitors in higher
education on a global scale (Cubillo et al., 2006) at both institutional and country levels
(Mpinganjira, 2009).
In addition, as governments in many countries realized that in order to attract international
students they cannot rely solely on the individual universities alone, they introduced a
variety of competitive national-level strategies for internationalisation of higher education
(Mpinganjira, 2009). One of the most important form of internationalisation today occurs
through exporting of own higher education service through recruiting overseas students (de
Wit, 2008). With this regard, benefits of internationalisation are numerous, such as
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opportunity of a ‘brain gain’ and subsequent retention of international students in the host
country and utilization of their skills on a labour market. Therefore, due to outlined reasons,
in the today’s environment of international education, we can truly talk about
‘mainstreaming’ of internationalisation in many countries (Hahn, 2004:123).
In Europe, the international dimension of higher education has become “more central on the
agenda of European and national governments, institutions of higher education and their
representative bodies, student organisations and accreditation agencies” (De Wit, 2011:5) De
Wit (2011:5) suggests that internationalization in Europe has moved from a “reactive to a
pro-active strategic issue, from added value to mainstream, and also has seen its focus, scope
and content evolve substantially”.
It is important to note that with regard to statistics on international student mobility, there
exists an ongoing discussion of whether students who are nationals from countries which
are members of European Union (EU) should be distinguished from international students
and how the possible inclusion or exclusion affects the government policies (Lasanowski et
al., 2009). Some countries, such as UK and Sweden make this distinction, however the
general consensus is that students from EU are referred to as international students (ibid,
2009). For the purpose of this paper, these students are treated as international unless
otherwise stated.
3.2 Historical development of internationalisation: European
According to van Damme (2001), international components of higher education are not at all
new to universities and higher education policies. Indeed, many researchers believe that
higher education has always been global in nature (Knight and de Wit, 1995; Altbach, 1998;
Altbach and Teichler, 2001; Altbach, Reisberg and Rumbley, 2009; Teichler, 2010). However,
as argued by Chan and Dimmock (2008:185), “internationalization in its current heightened
state and organized form is a recent phenomenon”. This leads to Tiechler (2006), who
believes that the term ‘re-internationalisation’ should be used today as a reflection of these
changes. In order to fully understand the current state of international higher education, it is
important to put it into a historical perspective.
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Knight and de Wit (1995) claim that the history of international higher education in Europe
can be divided into three stages, based on the extended historical resources they provided.
These are: Middle Ages and Renaissance period; the nationalist period between 18 th Century
and World War II; and the post-war period up to the present day.
The concept of internationalisation of higher education is believed to date back to the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, when elite students and scholars pilgrimaged
between different institutions in Europe to gain academic knowledge and new cultural
experiences, such as new ideas, political principles and views (De Ridder-Symoens, 1992).
The use of Latin as a common language and a uniform programme of study along with a
system of examinations across Europe posed conditions under which itinerant students
could continue their studies in one 'studium' after another (Knight, de Wit, 1995). Knight
and de Wit (1995:7) notes similarities between the rationales for mobility of students and
researches in that period to the “arguments used to promote mobility today” and suggests
that these similarities has led European Commission to name their most important mobility
programme Erasmus5 after “one of the best-known wandering scholars” of the Renaissance
The internationalisation of higher education in the period between 18th Century and the
Second World War was noticeable through three international elements (Knight and de Wit,
1995). First element was a notion of export of higher education systems from the European
colonial powers to their colonies. Scholars claim that higher education in colonies was
modelled on higher education from the colonial powers, and they argue, still largely is
constructed according to the patterns of some of the European educational systems (ibid,
1995). This element has to a large extent contributed to student mobility, as many students
“sojourned to the universities in Europe on which the home institutions were modelled to
pursue further studies” (ibid, 1995:7). In fact, up to a present day, Spain and France continue
to receive a large number of international students from their former colonies due to these
historical factors (Lasanowski, 2009). Another important factor, which played a part in
the internationalisation of higher education of this area, was the international exchange of
ideas and information through seminars, conferences and publications which contributed to
Erasmus is the European Union’s (EU) student exchange programme established in 1987 which aim is to
enable and encourage higher education students in Europe to study for a period of time in another
European country. Erasmus exchanges usually take one or two academic semesters (Kelo, Ulrich, Wächter,
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the establishment of international contacts between scholars (Knight and Wit, 1995). Knight
and de Wit (1995) argue that the third significant international element of this period was
the individual mobility of a small group of well-to-do and academically qualified students to
the internationally more renowned universities, which remained or became centres of
international learning.
After the Second World War, the intense competition between the two superpowers which
emerged from the war, namely the USA and the Soviet Union, was expressed in a vast
interest in expanding their spheres of influence and gaining a better understanding of the
rest of the world (Knight and de Wit, 1995). Both countries believed that these political
aspirations can be, among other ways, achieved through promoting international
educational exchange and cooperation (ibid, 1995). When the Erasmus programme was
inaugurated in 1987 in Europe to “stimulate and support temporary mobility of students
within Europe” it was considered a “single strongest driver for the attention paid to
internationalisation” due to its ‘success story’ (Teichler, 2010:263). However, it wasn’t until
the collapse of communism in the early 1990s that the Soviet Union and its former satellite
states placed a stronger emphasis on globalisation of economics, social and political
relations and of knowledge and focused on the international cooperation including higher
education (Knight, de Wit, 1995).
In the 1990s, the internationalisation of higher education was a widely recognized concept
(de Wit, 2011:5) and it became a key issue in debates and policies in Europe (Teichler,
2010). The article on the state of research in internationalisation of higher education
published by Teichler in 1996 is seen as a stepping stone of this area (Kehm and Teicher,
2007) along with a launch of Journal of Studies in International Higher Education in 1997,
which was believed to be the “the best available mirror of achievements of research on
internationalisation of higher education” at the time” (ibid, 2007:451). Moreover, in 1996,
World Trade Organisation (WTO) has identified education as a service in the context of the
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which was another “expression of the
increased importance of the internationalisation of higher education” (de Wit, 2009:2).
3.3 Definitions of internationalisation from educational perspective
While the discourse of internationalisation of higher education at the beginning of the
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1990s, accepted that the concept of internationalisation could be clearly demarcated
(Teichler, 1996), research today focus on other topics, such as management, policy, funding
etc., causing a certain ‘fuzziness’ in the way internationalisation is perceived and analysed
(Kehm and Teichler, 2007). Kehm and Teichler (2007) explains that this ‘fuzziness’ is a
consequence of a growing importance of the international argument, a growing interest in
international comparison, and a growing focus on macro policies and processes of
coordination. Due the substantial widening of the meaning of internationalisation (Wächter,
2008), its academic definition has also undergone important developments.
In 1992, the European Association for International Education (EAIE) described
internationalisation as “the whole range of processes by which education becomes less
national and more internationally oriented” (as quoted in Yang, 2002:72). Some years later,
Kälvemark and der Wende (1997:23) developed a more complex definition of
internationalisation suggesting that it is “any systematic, sustained effort aimed at making
higher education responsive to the requirements and challenges related to the globalisation of
societies, economy and labour markets”. Elliot (1998) supported the notion of systematic way
of functioning of internationalisation and developed a national perspective to this definition.
In his words, internationalisation is “a systematic, sustained effort by government to make
higher education institutions more responsive to the challenges of the globalisation of the
economy and society” (1998:32). It is important to point out that this definition is only useful
when referred to state-owned tertiary education institutions (ibid, 1998). Knight (2008:21)
introduced a further definition which saw internationalisation as a process:
“Internationalisation of higher education is the process of integrating an international,
intercultural, and global dimension into the purpose, functions (teaching, research, and
service), and delivery of higher education at the institutional and national level”
Waters pointed out that this process needs to “occur simultaneously at different spatial
scales” (2009:548) to reach out different stakeholders such as faculty, students, international
(supra-national) organizations, national and regional governments, educational institutions
or the private sector, which supports Knight's belief of the need for integration. The author
of this thesis is inclined to follow Knight’s (2008) definition, since it is believed to be most
inclusive among many authors (see de Wit, 2008; Qiang, 2003; Sanderson, 2003, Altbach,
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3.4 Significant context: Globalisation
It is fair to state that globalisation, and more importantly its influence over economic, social
and political relations, represents an important context to the current state of
internationalisation of higher education. Since the late 1990s, when the term ‘globalisation’
started to grow in popularity in Europe as well as in other parts of the world, it was so much
on the agenda, that it almost displaced the term ‘internationalisation’ (Teichler, 2010).
Santiago et al. (2008:236) believes that globalisation translated “into growing demands for
an international dimension of education and training”. For instance, there is a noticeable
demand for internationally competent workers versed in foreign languages, especially in
English as a 'lingua franca' for international communication (Knight and Altbach, 2006) and
accustomed in intercultural skills to successfully interact with international partners
(Santiago et al., 2008). As a result, we are currently witnessing the “internationalisation of
the labour market for the highly skilled” (ibid, 2008:236). Furthermore, from a higher
education perspective, the demand for ‘highly skilled’ becomes an important driver for
international student mobility (Yang, 2003), which acts as preparatory phase for students
who aim to engage in international careers requiring the mobility of high-level skills upon
graduation (Findlay, King, 2010). In addition, Altbach (2004) suggests that the phenomenon
of globalization has ignited the competition between countries with regard to academic
research and institutions. Scott (1998) believes that in this context, institutions function
partly as objects or even victims, but partly as subjects, or key agents of globalisation. In
internationalization” (Altbach, 2004:19).
Altbach (2004) notes that internationalization is often confused with globalization, which
causes a problem in the discussion of globalisation from an educational perspective. This can
be evident from the fact that “internationalisation and globalisation are often used
interchangeably to reflect education-related cross-border activities” (Santiago et. al. 2008).
Yet, according to Knight (2008), it is necessary to distinguish these two concepts in
discussions of the tertiary education sector. According to Altbach (2004:5) for higher
education, globalization means “the broad economic, technological, and scientific trends that
directly affect higher education and are largely inevitable”, while internationalization includes
“specific policies and programs undertaken by governments, academic systems and institutions,
and even individual departments or institutions to cope with or exploit globalization”. In other
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words, “‘internationalisation’ is generally defined as increasing cross-border activities amidst
persistence of borders, while ‘globalisation’ refers to similar activities concurrent to an erosion
of borders” (Teichler, 2009:1).
3.5 What does internationalisation of Higher Education include?
As evident from the definition, internationalisation in higher education is a multi-faceted
process and encompasses a range of activities to which tertiary education institutions (TEIs)
and government bodies may engage into. Although student and academic mobility are
considered to be the most observable expressions of internationalisation (Santiago et al.,
2008) and for some universities or countries form important determinants for the
assessment of the success of internationalisation (de Wit, 2011), they do not necessarily
constitute its unique expression (Santiago et al., 2008). De Wit (2011) suggests that other
aspects of internationalisation, such as ‘internationalisation at home’ have become as
relevant as the traditional focus on mobility. Therefore, before reviewing a body of literature
discussing student and academic mobility, which constitutes the most relevant type of
internationalisation in answering the problem statement of this thesis, it is of a considerable
importance to take a brief look at some of the other forms of internationalisation.
According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2004),
internationalisation of higher education can be generally categorized into two types. The
first type is a ‘cross border education’ which relates to student and faculty mobility, and
mobility of educational programmes and institutions across borders (ibid, 2004). According
to OECD (2004) this type of internationalisation is achieved through study abroad
programmes, student and faculty exchange, satellite campuses and distance learning. With
‘internationalisation at home’ which involves including multicultural and global
interdisciplinary research, and intercultural learning and services for international students
(ibid, 2004). Santiago et al. (2008) have further developed this categorisation, listing five not
mutually exclusive types of internationalisation;
First type, convergence of tertiary education systems and international recognition
arrangements, can be achieved through the “convergence and streamlining of national
degree structures or the convergence of instruments to translate and recognise credits and
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qualifications earned elsewhere” (Santiago et al., 2008:238). Scholars believe that due to the
provision of Bologna Declaration6 this type of internationalisation is most noticeable in
Europe (ibid, 2008, Teichler, 2010). The mutual recognition of foreign qualifications
promoted by Bologna Declaration, such as a common three-degree structure known as
Bachelor-Master-Doctorate (BMD), makes it incomparably easier for students to continue
further education in other European countries (EHEA, 2009).
Another type involves internationalisation of the system of credits attached to educational
programmes through international recognition instruments. This means that students
can validate study credits obtained elsewhere through a simplified credit transfer schemes,
which can increase their mobility in Europe (Santiago et al., 2008). The most well-known
system of credits used for recognition and accumulation is the European Credit Transfer and
Accumulation System (ECTS) introduced in 1989 (Santiago et al., 2008) and enhanced by
Bologna Declaration in 1999 as a “proper means of promoting the most widespread student
mobility” (Bologna Secretariat, 1999:7). From 1999, the ECTS system is also reinforced by
the Diploma Supplement, a document attached to a higher education diploma which is
usually in English language and improves the international recognition of achieved
qualifications (Santiago et al., 2008).
The internationalisation of programmes’ content and delivery is a further type of
internationalization listed by Santiago et al. (2008). It is often referred to as
‘internationalization at home’, a terminology previously created by OECD (OECD, 2004 in
Santiago et al., 2008). As argued by Bennell and Pierce (2003:220), the core ingredient of a
successful internationalisation at home is the internationalisation of the curriculum with a
“sense of the international and global”. Internationally recognized professional qualifications,
joint or double degrees are the most common types of internationalized curriculum (OECD,
1995). In addition, Wachter (2008:3) points out that “the most prominent form of curricular
internationalisation is the delivery of a programme in a language other than the one of the
country where this programme is offered” (Wachter, 2008:3). Wächter (2003) suggests that it
is crucial to integrate an international language component, as a communication tool to
enable graduates to communicate across borders. Here, the dominance of English-speaking
Created in 1999, Bologna Declaration is an intergovernmental initative involving 46 countries.
Participants in the Bologna Process now reach 46 countries spread geographically between Iceland,
Portugal, Turkey and the Russian Federation. Bologna Declaration was created to promote student
mobility and other important issues such as mutual recognition of foreign qualifications (Santiago, 2008)
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destinations, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States
“reflects the progressive adoption of English as a global language” (OECD, 2010:316).
The fourth form of internationalisation, institution and programme mobility represents a
newest form of development within the international aspect of higher education.
International education can now be delivered through branch campuses of tertiary
education institutions abroad, distance education courses (such as on-line courses), joint
courses or programmes offered in partnership between a local provider and a foreign TEI
(Santiago et al. 2008). This form of internationalisation is often referred to as ‘trans-national
education’ or ‘collaborative’ and corresponds to education activities in which the students
are located in a country different from the one where the awarding TEI is based (van der
Wende, 2001). This form of internationalization however is clearly cost-demanding, since it
requires a foreign direct investment by TEIs or companies (Santiago et al., 2008)
The final, ‘highly visible’ form of internationalisation (Teichler, 2010:267), namely, people
mobility is equivalent to “mobility of individuals across borders” (Santiago et al., 2008:243).
Hence, it is often referred to as ‘cross-border mobility’, ‘cross-border education’ or ‘crossborder consumption’ (OECD, 2004; Woodfield, 2010). This form of internationalisation
involves the physical mobility of international students and of academic staff and
researchers (Santiago et al., 2008). While the mobility of staff and researchers usually takes
form of short-term visits for professional development, sabbatical leave or regular
employment in a foreign country for extended periods of time (OECD, 2004), forms of
international student mobility (ISM) are far more complicated and are discussed in detail
3.5.1 Types of ISM
According to the UOE convention, “internationally mobile students are students who have
crossed borders expressly with the intention to study” (UOE as quoted in Eurostat, 2009:83).
However, students today are also able to become ‘internationally mobile’ through
‘transnational education’ and ‘virtual mobility’ (Woodfield, 2010:110). This involves the
previously mentioned Institution and Programme mobility covering traditional distance
education or e-learning, commercial presence abroad and satellite or branch campuses (ibid,
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One of the defining characteristics of international student mobility is the bifurcation
between inward and outward mobility (Woodfield, 2009). Inwards-mobile students are
normally defined as “as either having lived permanently abroad before enrolling at a tertiary
education institution in their current country of study or as having been awarded their entry
qualification for tertiary education abroad” (Kelo, Teichler, Wachter, 2006:200). On the other
hand, outward mobility is defined as “any form of international mobility that takes place
within a student’s program of study” (Biazos, 2007:3).
A further division situated inside the context of ISM today is between the enrolment in a
different country for a full-degree programme, also known as ‘diploma mobility’, and a
‘credit mobility’ which occurs as a part of multilateral programmes (for example study
abroad and student exchange programmes) (Santiago et al., 2008; Woodfield, 2010). The
definition of a diploma student which this thesis will refer to is the one provided by the
Danish Agency for International Education (2010:1): a “student enrolled in a full-time degree
programme in a country other than the country of original residence”. According to the same
source, exchange students are “students studying abroad temporarily for a period of at least
three months” (ibid, 2010:1). In the European context, ‘credit mobility’ often occurs through
programmes such as the Eramsus and Nordplus programmes in Europe and in the Nordic
and Baltic States respectively (Santiago, 2008:241).
Research shows that the majority of all students studying worldwide choose to become
internationally mobile for a full-degree programme enrolment (Verbik et al., 2007). This is
especially noticeable with regard to outward mobility of students who travel abroad to
countries with a perceived higher quality HE system than in their home country (Woodfield,
2010). It often occurs that these students come from ‘developing’ countries and they want to
study in ‘developed’ countries (Teichler, 2010:9). This phenomenon has been named
‘vertical mobility’ as opposed to ‘horizontal mobility’ between similarly developed HE
systems, such as within Europe (Teichler, 2009).
3.6 International Student Mobility as a key factor for
Currently, the importance of student mobility in a process of internationalisation
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underscores the fact that “despite the considerable widening of the meaning of
‘internationalisation’, one of its core features has remained the mobility of students across
country borders” (Wachter, 2008:7). De Wit (1997) and (Teichler, 2010) supports this view,
adding that while it is not the only component of internationalisation, the national
assessment of the ongoing internationalisation of tertiary education relies heavily on the
number of students enrolled in countries other than their own. In other words, the extent of
international student mobility (ISM) “is one of the primary indicator of the globalisation and
internationalization of higher education” (Woodfield, 2010:123). As a result, “in many
nations, international mobility is a key policy theme, either from the perspective of sending
nationals abroad or in some countries from the perspective of attracting foreigners as
students” (Santiago, 2010:241). Both inward and outward student mobility is commonly
seen as “improving economic competitiveness in a global knowledge economy as it is closely
linked with skilled migration and targets for improving the quality of scientific output”
(Woodfield, 2009:2). Therefore, it is not surprising that in recent times, international
student recruitment and promotion of study abroad programmes has established itself as a
significant administrative process with which universities and governments across Europe
have to engage (Woodfield, 2010).
ISM is often discussed in a connection to expressions such as ‘brain gain’ or ‘brain drain’,
which have been developed to illustrate the ‘movement’ of knowledgeable and skilled
individuals dependent on the context of either importing or exporting countries (Woodfield,
2010). The concept of brain drain, often referred to ‘human capital flight’ (Dilworth, 2007),
originates from 1950s when scientists and technologists moved from the United Kingdom to
United States and Canada (Brandenburg, Carr, Donauer, Bethold, 2008). Reasonably, the
concept of brain gain was developed with regard to the movement of highly skilled workers
and intelligentsia into a different geographic region or country than their own, which from
the economic point of view, is believed to have a highly lucrative effect on the receiving
economy (ibid, 2008). Likewise, education-related cross-border mobility becomes a source
of a brain drain for a sending country and a cause of a brain gain for a host country
(Varghese, 2009).
3.6.1 Trends in ISM in Europe
Statistics show that the growth of the international student mobility in higher education
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over the past 35 years has been significant- while only 600 000 students were enrolled in
the TEIs abroad in 1975, in 2005 this number has reached 2.7 million (Hawthorne, 2009).
This implies that foreign enrolment in tertiary education throughout the word increased
over fourfold during the last three decades. With regard to the European landscape,
according to the available data, student mobility in Europe occurs largely within Europe
(IOM, 2008). In 2004, among students from Europe registered abroad, 81 per cent were
studying in another European country (IOM, 2008:108). According to Change and Lewin
(2009:221) these trends in ISM “have been influenced by global, national, and regional
However, Woodfield (2010:112) suggests that one should be conscious that statistics made
about international student mobility are “predominantly limited to diploma mobility, while
credit mobility has enjoyed only steady growth”. Indeed, official statistics on international
enrolments, such as those collected by UNESCO, OECD and EUROSTAT theoretically exclude
data on credit mobility (Santiago, 2008; OECD, 2007; Woodfield, 2009; Teichler, 2010).
Therefore, as rightly concluded by De Wit (2008), “there have been huge variations in the
dynamics of international student mobility” albeit its visible growth.
3.7 National-level rationales for internationalisation of Higher
According to Knight (1997:14), a rationale for internationalization is “a complex and multilevelled set of reasons which evolve over time and in response to changing needs and trends”.
Despite their complexity, rationales are important to consider, since:
“Without a clear set of rationales, accompanied by a set of objectives or policy statements, a
plan, and a monitoring/evaluation system, the process of internationalisation is often an ad
hoc, reactive, and fragmented response to the overwhelming number of new international
opportunities available. (Knight 2008: 8)”
Rationales for internationalization differ between stakeholders (Altbach, 2007; Knight,
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2008). With regard to higher education, these can include students, faculty, supranational7
organizations (SNOs), national and regional governments, educational institutions or the
private sector (Waters, 2009). Alongside reviewing the body of literature on the common
rationales for internationalisation, this part of thesis also aims to exemplify the rationales
adapted by a number of national governments and their organisations in Europe. In
consequence, this will help in a later discussion about which rationale for
internationalisation is currently driven by Danish government in its strategy to increase the
recruitment of international students from Poland to Danish TEIs.
A significant number of authors tend to agree upon the most common rationales for
internationalisation from a national-level perspective (see der Wende, 2001; OECD, 2004;
Santiago et al., 2008, De Wit, 2002; Knight, 2008; van Wijk, 2009). According to Van Wijk
(2009), it is important that governments, being the major actors in the process (der Wende,
2001), take different rationales into consideration, since it will help them to decide the
different strategies they wish to adopt. The four main rationales for internationalisation
(OECD, 2004) are not exclusive (Santiago et al, 2008) and involve: the mutual-understanding
approach, the revenue-generating approach, the skilled-migration approach and the
capacity-building approach.
3.7.1 The mutual-understanding approach
According to OECD (2004b), the mutual-understanding approach includes political, cultural,
academic, and development aid goals. It promotes scholarships and academic exchange
programmes to allow and encourage mobility of both domestic and foreign students and
staff thereby supporting academic partnerships between educational institutions (Kemp,
Roger, 2006). The main rationale for this approach is built around an argument that student
mobility develops academic and professional knowledge, enhances employment prospects
for students, and contributes to the home country's economic and social growth upon their
return (Bracht et al 2006, van Wijk, 2009). In Europe, governments interested in this
approach are particularly focused on promoting the Erasmus exchange programmes and
research cooperation in the European area, while generally undermining any strong push
towards international student recruitment (OECD, 2004b). A fine example of a European
country which cultivates this approach is Spain (ibid, 2004).
Supranational organizations refer to “all organizations, institutions and political and social processes involving
more than a single state or at least two non-state actors from different nation-states” (Lucas, 1999:7).
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3.7.2 The revenue-generating approach
Like any other market service, the revenue-generating approach has a goal of controlling a
large share of the market by enrolling a large number of international students (Santiago,
2008). Given the rapid expansion of tertiary education in OECD8 countries, the financial
pressures on higher education systems have intensified, leading to a greater interest in
recruiting fee-paying international students who cover at least the cost of their education
without any public subsidies (OECD, 2010). As estimated by OECD (2003), in 2002
international education represented $30 billion (approximately €21 billion) or 3% of
OECD's total trade services, which explains the intense competition between a number of
countries attempting to “quantify the direct value of international education in general, and
students in particular, to their national economies” (Kemp, Roger, 2006:16). Apart from the
revenue generated from tuition fees, this value also includes the domestic consumption by
international students (OECD, 2010:310). In the European context, United Kingdom is an
example of this approach (OECD, 2004a:4). According to Kemp and Roger (2006), the
estimated total value of international education to the overall UK economy in 2006 was
around €20 billion.
As previously mentioned, ‘international students’ are often required to pay the full
programme tuition in Europe, with an exception of Norway (, 2011). Here,
it is important to note that students from UE or EEA member states are not treated the same
as international students with regard to national policies for financing of HE structures
(OECD, 2010). This is because, unlike ‘international students’, most students who come from
the EU member states, “are treated as domestic students in terms of tuition fees”, which in
many cases mean they are not required to pay for their education (OECD, 2010:316).
However, alike ‘international students’, it is clear that they are generating economic values
for the host countries through the domestic consumption. An accurate assessment of
whether these can cover the costs of their studies is complex and dependent on a particular
country, which unfortunately goes beyond the scope of this thesis.
3.7.3 The skilled-migration approach
While discussing globalisation in the previous part of this thesis, it has been established that
the processes associated with the notion of globalisation has created a need for skilled
OECD was established in 1961 and today has 34 members from around the world (OECD, 2010)
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international force noticeable on the labour markets around the globe. Therefore, it should
not come as a surprise that the skilled-migration approach became a new driver for the
internationalisation of education systems in many countries (OECD, 2010). According to
OECD (2004b:4), the skilled-migration approach “shares the goals of the mutual
understanding approach but give stronger emphasis to the recruitment of selected
international students”, which subsequently means that it also may share some goals with a
revenue-generation approach. Indeed, Santiago (2008:264) argues that this approach has a
“clear economic drive” however, a “limited direct economic impact on the tertiary education
sector”. For the purpose of providing a comprehensive context to the case study, the skilledmigration approach is given a highlighted attention in this section of the thesis.
Basing their study on a fourteen prospective study destinations9, Dreher and Poutvaara
(2005:3) concluded that “the stock of foreign students from a given country of origin enrolled
in a given destination is an important predictor of subsequent migration between the two
countries”. Therefore, as a considerable share of cross-border students do not return to their
home countries and remain in their host country after they studied (Varghese, 2009),
recruitment of international students is a part of a broader strategy to recruit highly skilled
immigrants (Santiago, 2008) and becomes source of a ‘brain gain’ for a host country (de Wit,
2008). International students can be attractive employees for several reasons. They are
young (Hawthorne, 2009), and since most economically developed societies have low birth
rates and ageing populations, “recruiting young people who are at the beginning of their
working lives helps to sustain the number of working-age adults needed to support the growing
pool of retired elderly” (Kemp, Roger, 2006:16), which implies high level skills shortages in
these societies (ibid, 2006). In addition, their credentials are easy to recognize fully and
immediately and they have relevant professional training or experience (Hawthorne, 2009),
which makes them more easily employed than other foreign graduates (Kemp, Roger,
2006:16). Finally, they are expected to possess advanced host-country language ability
(Hawthorne, 2009). Finally, Hawthorne (2009:362) adds that “from the government point of
view, they are attractive because they have funded themselves to complete a domestic
qualification aligned with the human-capital requirements of local employers”.
In addition, this approach can target a variety of markets, such as students from certain
areas, undergraduate or research students rather than post-graduates, or students in a
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway,
Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States
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specific field (OECD, 2004b). Targeting a specific market, generally results in a rise in the
number of international students (ibid, 2004b).
In Europe, the skilled-migration approach is largely cultivated by the United Kingdom,
however the rationale is also strong for Germany (Santiago 2008) and France (OECD, 2004).
In particular, with regard to policy instruments, in order to attract and retain skilled
workers, these countries “monitor and replicate successful competitor models, expand
temporary entry options and combine government-driven supply with employer-driven
demand strategies” (Hawthorne, 2009:365).
3.7.4 The capacity-building approach
The capacity-building approach which encourages cross-border mobility of international
students has also become a crucial focus for many countries. It is believed that this approach
helps to increase global perspectives in classrooms (Bond, Bowry, 2002) and to build an
emerging country’s capacity in a relatively quick way (OECD, 2004). Countries following the
capacity-building approach feel the necessity to recruit and market internationally in order
“to maintain a world-class education and research environment” (der Wende, 2001:431), or in
other cases, “encourage education abroad as a way to address unmet demand resulting from
bottlenecks caused by the uneven expansion of the education system” (OECD, 2010)
Research on the international students following postgraduate programmes in the US
universities, indicated “the potentially immense contribution to US industry and academia”
(Kemp, Roger, 2006:17) and a likelihood of a significant impact on the development of
scientific and technological expertise should these international students returned to their
countries of origins. Therefore it seems of a crucial importance for the host countries to
develop sufficient incentives in order to convince international students to remain in the
host countries for further contribution to the academia (Thorn, Holm-Nielsen, 2006), such
as for example continuing their studies on a Masters or PhD levels.
To conclude, the above information makes it clear that there exists a vast competition for
international students in Europe. However, the particular concerns of countries in the
context of rationales for internationalisation are quite diverse. Some European countries feel
the need to “recruit and market internationally in order to compensate for national shortages
and to maintain a world-class education and research environment”, others feel the push to
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increase their revenues from the fee-paying students or enhance their academic cooperation
with other countries (der Wende, 2001:432).
3.8 The Student Decision-Making Process
As it has been established before, the importance of international student mobility as a key
ingredient of internationalisation is pressuring an increasing number of countries to
improve their shares in foreign student recruitment market. As suggested by Maringe
(2006), a useful way to gain understanding of the student recruitment market is to clarify
their choice and decision making processes. In particular, from a marketer point of view, it
is recommended that “continuous assessments of student choice factors and perceptions
should be made in order to improve marketing strategies and meet the diverse needs that
international students impose on the educational services” (Abubakar, Shanka and Muuka,
2010:50). Hence, the subsequent section will present the available literature of factors that
influence students study choices through the push-pull framework developed by Mazzarol
et al. (2002) which explains the motivational drives of students in deciding to study away
from their home countries and their selection process of a study destination. Such an
investigation will allow the Danish Agency for International Education to recognize and
evaluate the motivational drivers of Polish students and thus improve its strategy to
increase the recruitment of Polish students to Danish HEIs.
It is important to note however, that unfortunately there has been little systemic research
which could provide an “overall conceptualized framework for the student’s decision-making
process” (Eder et. al., 2010:235). So far, the current investigations of the student-decision
making process tend to “focus on the study of those factors related to the institution in itself,
disregarding the influence of the country choice” (Cubillo et al., 2006:1). Yet, according to a
number of studies (EduWorld, 2001; IDP Australia, 2003), around 60% of all students
considering a period of international study first choose their country of intended destination
and then select a specific institution. Without a clear and conceptualized framework
explaining the student’s decision-making process, especially the one which would include
drivers influencing a country choice, a number of researches, who saw international
students as customers of the educational services (Cubillo et al. 2006; Padlee, 2010;
Varghese, 2009) suggested that using customer purchase decision-making model may be
useful in such an investigation. Regrettably, none of them has attempted to combine the two
models into a one unified and conceptualized framework. For the purpose of this thesis and
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particularly in a search for a solution to the problem statement, a conceptualized framework
is presented further. However, as stated in the part 1.7 of this thesis (Delimitations), this
framework is limited in approach and therefore prone to various criticisms.
In addition, it is important to note that the terms customer and consumer or buyer are used
interchangeably throughout this thesis, albeit the clear differences between the two10. This is
because, as noted previously, students and international students in particular are often
perceived as both customers and subsequent consumers of the educational service provided
by international suppliers (Cubillo et al., 2006; Sherry et al., 2004; Eagle et al., 2007;
Cuthbert, 2010).
3.8.1 Education as a service, student as a customer
Since WTO has taken a decision to accept education as a service trade in 1996, many
researches attempted to investigate the market of higher education particularly from a
service marketing perspective (see Kotler and Anderson, 1987; Binsardi and Ekwulugo,
2003; Cubillo, 2006; Umashankar, Dutta, 2007). They believed that one basic principle of
marketing can apply to education: marketing activities should be geared towards what the
customers want and need (Binsardi et al. 2003:319; Kotler et al. 1987), making it a customer
satisfying process (Levitt, 1968). These needs and wants are usually fulfilled through one or
a combination of types of market offerings, such as products, services, information or
experiences (Armstrong, Harker, Kotler, Brennan, 2009). As a service, higher education
entails the characteristics of services such as intangibility, inseparability of production and
consumption and non-standardisation (Varghese, 2009).
Following this perspective, there is an on-going debate in the educational environment
about whether students should be seen as ‘customers’ or ‘real products’ in a service
marketing process. The supporter of the former view, Harrison-Walker (2010:192) believe
that “one critical application all too often neglected, misunderstood and mismanaged in higher
education is approaching students as customers’ while targeting them for profitability”.
According to this perspective, “the learner becomes a customer or purchaser of services”
(Varghese, 2009:14). Hence, the drivers hidden behind students’ decision to study abroad
and consequently selecting a specific study destination or institution are often referred to as
In the words of McDonald and Wilson (2011:92) “the consumer is the final consumer of goods or services.
Customers, on the other hand, are the people or organizations who buy directly from us.”
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‘purchase intentions’ (Cubillo et al., 2006). On the other hand, Marginson (1997) suggests
that viewing a student as a customer leads to a variety of misunderstandings and limitations,
given that education providers do not operate in a completely free market place. Kotler and
Fox (1985) share the non-customer perspective with Marginson and believe that students
are raw materials, graduates the products, and prospective employers the customers. This
paradigm is rooted in the traditional perception of higher education in which competition
between TEIs or national Higher Education systems is not existent (Padlee, 2010). However,
as suggested by Clayson and Haley (2005) the customer model for students is often not
explicitly stated, but evidence for this orientation can be found in many behaviors and
procedures of higher education. The author of this thesis is inclined to accept the ‘customeroriented’ approach to prospective students, since the theory on customer decision-making
behaviour can to a great extend explain the behavioural patterns of international students
undergoing the decisional process of taking up studies abroad. The reasons for it are
outlined below.
3.8. 2 Model of Customer-decision making process
Any customer decision which ends with a purchase, regardless of its complexity is a result of
a customer decision-making process (Lantos, 2010). It has been maintained that consumer
behavior forms an integral part of the customer decision-making process (Lamb, Hair,
McDaniel 2009; Schiffman, Hansen, Kanuk, 2008). The theory on consumer behavior is
concerned with how consumers acquire, organise and use information to make
consumption choices (Arnould, Price and Zinkhan, 2002; Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, 2009). The
study of consumer behaviour also involves an analysis of factors that influence purchase
decisions and product or service use (ibid, 2009:140). Therefore, based on the above
definitions, it can be accepted that studies on consumer behavior are engaged into an
investigation of the decision-making process in relation to the factors which effect the
purchasing decision.
Originally developed in 1968, the Customer Decision Making Model by Engel, Kollat, and
Blackwell (Figure 3) is commonly labeled as the “ground model” of consumer decisionmaking (Kassarjian, 1982; Schiffman, Kanuk, 2000; Solomon, 2002; Sheth, Mittal, 2004;
Tyagi, Kumar, 2004; Babin, Harris, 2010). The aim of this model was to “portray process of
proceeding through a purchase decision as a logical problem solving approach” (Cherian &
Harris, 1990:747).
This logical problem solving represents the cognitive view on the
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consumer decision-making process and assumes that consumers are information processors
who would purchase products or services only if they acquire sufficient information to make
a satisfactory purchasing decision (Schiffman, Kanuk, 2004). According to this model,
consumers pass through five stages (also called subprocesses) in the decision-making
process: problem or need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives,
purchase decision and post-purchase behavior (Engel, Blackwell, 1982; Schiffmanm, Kanuk
2000; Solomon, 2002) as illustrated below.
Evaluation of
Figure 2: Consumer decision-making process. Source: Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1968) as
seen in Tyagi, Kumar (2004:55)
Other approaches considered for selecting the model which explains the process of decisionmaking involved psychological and economic perspectives (Yang, 2008). According to
Schiffman and Kanuk (2004), the economic approach assumes that consumers are fully
rational, possess nearly perfect information and are also not restricted with their values and
beliefs. This normative view has been criticized as being excessively idealistic, since
consumers are often influenced by their habits, values and the extent of their knowledge
(ibid, 2004). An example of such a model would be a Rational Choice Theory (see Becker,
1976; Allingham, 2002) or the Game theory (see Schubik, 1981; Myerson, 1991; Aumann,
2008). On the other hand, the psychological perspective represents an opposite view and
suggests that because consumers use ‘filters’ through which they process information and
interpret their surroundings, their decision-making process is always contextually and
individually variable (Schiffman, Kanuk, 2004). This means that it is hard to predict their
behavior, which is often irrational and dependent on the situation.
As described above, the customer decision making theories are numerous, however the
cognitive decision making theory suits the intentions of this research in that it focuses on the
logical context of the decision making process. If we accept that purchasing international
education requires an extensive information search, then viewing consumers as information
processors who would only purchase products or services if they acquire sufficient
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information (Schiffman, Kanuk, 2004) matches the logical problem solving perspective
represented by the cognitive decision making theory.
Nevertheless, assumptions of the consumer decision-making process have been prone to
criticisms since a variety of scholars believe that when making a decision to purchase, a
consumer may end the decision-making process at any time (Lamb et al., 2009) which
means that not all processes may necessarily lead to a purchase (Pride, Ferrell 2009). In fact,
not every consumer passes through all of the five stages and that some of the stages can be
skipped with regard to the type of a purchase (ibid, 2009; Tyagi et al. 2004). The type of
purchase therefore determines the way that a consumer makes a purchase decision (Lamb
et. al., 2009). With respect to this view, the next section deals with different types of
consumer decisions and influences of the types of products or services purchased. It ends
with a detail explanation of each stages of consumer decision making. Types of decision making
Moving further in the literature review, the types of consumer decision making can be
divided into three categories: routine decision-making, limited decision-making and
extensive decision-making (Lamb, 2009:147; Schiffman, Hansen, Kanuk, 2008). The
routine response behaviour is most commonly observed when consumers are making
frequent purchases of low-cost goods or services (Lamb, 2009). By contrast,
consumers practice the limited decision making when having a previous product experience
but are unfamiliar with the current brands available (ibid, 2009). Finally, the extensive
decision-making commonly occurs when consumers are purchasing a new product, an
expensive product or an infrequently bought item (Lancaster & Jobber 1994; Lamb,
2009). Figure 4 below represents the specific characteristics of these categories. According
to Lancaster and Jobber (1994), the level of involvement that goes into the decision is a key
determinant of the decision making category. In this context, involvement is defined as the
“amount of time and effort a buyer invests in the search, evaluation and decision process”
(Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, 2009:146). Scholars suggest that apart from the level of consumer
involvement, the three types of decision-making (routine, limited and extensive) are
influenced by four other factors, namely: length of time to make a decision, value of the good
or service, degree of information search and number of alternatives (Loudon, Bitta, 1993;
Lamb et al 2009).
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Figure 3: Continuum of consumer buying decisions. Source: Lamb et al (2009:147)
Borrowing from previous studies (Laing et al, 2002), Smith and Zook (2011:98) suggest that
the consumer-decision making model originally developed by Engel, Kollat and Blackwell “is
more relevant for a high-involvement purchase”, as opposed to low-involvement purchase,
which is a routinized response situation. This implies that the previously discussed model is
most applicable to the extensive decision-making type of the process of proceeding through
a purchase decision, which as explained below, is the type of decision making of prospective
students. In addition, the consumer decision making model proposed by Engel et al. is highly
relevant for a service industry (Verma, Metters, 2008; Bennett, Jooste, Strydom, 2005) such
as international education and it is commonly applied to the tourism industry in particular
(see Bennett, Jooste, Strydom, 2005; Robinson, Heitmann, Dieke, 2011; Woodside, 2009;
Prideaux, Moscardo, Laws, 2006). These reasons further underline the suitability of the
consumer decision-making model developed by Engel in understanding and discussing
the student decision making process. Purchase of education as an extensive decision making
According to Figure 4, the extensive consumer decision-making is characterised by a high
level of consumer involvement. A number of scholars believe that a high-involvement
purchase involves a lengthy decision-making process and is usually associated with a high
perceived risk of the purchase (Mourad, Ennew, Kortam, 2011; Boyd, 2002). According to
Laing et al. (2002), “perceived risk is generally higher in a service selection decision because
consumers find services more difficult to evaluate in advance of purchase” (as quoted in
Mourad et. al., 2011:401). Yang (2008:18) supported this, claiming that “consumers usually
associate intangibility with a high level of risk”. Education, accepted as a service, does not
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pose an exception from this rule. Binsardi and Ekwulugo (2003:319) believe that “making
the decision to study abroad is a high involvement process, and is high risk”. Nicholls et al.
(1995) adds that this is mainly because international education is a seldom purchase. In
addition, the high risk is often related to “expensive initiatives that students may ever
undertake” (Mazzarol, Soutar, 2002:83) such as high costs of studying abroad (Cubillo,
Sanchez, Cervino, 2006:1). The above arguments suggest that a process of ‘buying’
international education requires an extensive decision making from students. Problem recognition, information search and alternative evaluation
As discussed before, the customer-decision making process outlines five stages that the
consumer passes through purchase decision (Figure 3). The extensive decision making
behaviour usually exhibited by students in selecting international education means that they
are not likely to skip any of the five steps in decision-making process (Sandhusen, 1993;
Tyagi, Kumar, 2004). However, due to the scope of this thesis, only three stages of a
consumer decision making will be examined further, namely problem recognition,
information search and alternative evaluation. It needs to be noted, however, that the fifth
stage of consumer decision-making: post-purchase evaluation might play a considerable role
in the student decision-making process. As revealed by the literature review, if students are
satisfied with their education abroad they are likely to recommend it to others, which
creates a positive word-of-mouth for that study destination (Yoon, Uysal, 2005, Kozak,
According to Tyagi and Kumar (2004) the consumer decision making process is initiated
when the buyer recognizes a problem or need (see Figure 4). In this stage, the consumer
acknowledges an imbalance between his/her current and desired state and therefore feels
the need to fill it (Engel et al., 1995; Lamb et al., 2004). The need for a desired state may be
triggered by internal or external stimuli (Tyagi, Kumar, 2004; Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, 2007).
The role of a marketer in this context is to “identify the circumstances that trigger the
particular need or interest in consumers” (Tyagi, Kumar, 2004:56). Alike in case of customers,
the state of problem recognition of students can result from both internal and external
factors which may trigger their need to achieve a desired state. When recognizing a gap
between an actual and desired state, potential students must decide whether to fill it
through studying abroad. Students will only fill the gap when this choice of studying abroad
is attractive enough and available to them (Kozak, 2001).
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After a need has been acknowledged the consumer embarks on a search for information. At
this stage of consumer decision-making process, consumer is gathering information and
“becomes acquainted with some of the products and services in the market and their features”
(Tyagi et al., 2004:57). Following the view that making the decision to study abroad is a high
involvement process, various sources consequently suggest that this process involves high
information search (Binsardi and Ekwulugo, 2003; Lamb et al., 2007). With regard to this,
Pimpa (2003) maintains that the search for international education services differs from
that for goods and nonprofessional services. He adds that, “the complexity and intangibility of
international education services increase the importance for reliable sources of information”
(2003:182). Indeed, the sources of information available to customers “are of key interest to
the marketer as the consumer will turn to these and each will have relative influence on the
subsequent purchase decision.” (Tyagi, Kumar, 2004:57). In addition, this stage of consumer
search behaviour is crucially important for marketers, since it “represents the first stage at
which marketing can provide information and, hence influence consumers’ decisions” (McCollKennedy, Fetter 1999:242).
As the decision-making process in international education services is characterised by an
extensive type of consumer behaviour, the information is acquired through internal and
external search behaviour. In case of an internal search, consumers search their memories
for information about market offerings that might solve their problem (Pride and Ferrell,
2009). If they are not able to retrieve enough information from their memories to make a
decision, they tend to look for additional information from external sources, engaging into
an external search behaviour (ibid, 2009). In this context, the external sources of
information can take a variety of forms and ways in which international students receive
information about studying abroad and study destinations (Kemp, Roger, 2006). These are
growing rapidly and usually involve the following (ibid, 2006:30; Woodfield, 2010):
Institutional websites
Print material, such as educational publications and prospectuses
Governmental and/or commercial rankings
Word-of-mouth through friends, family or alumni
National agencies and their promotional and counselling activities
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Education fairs
The general consensus is that the primary source of information is Internet, which is open to
all students at all levels (in developing and developed countries) (Kemp and Rogers, 2006).
In addition, in the context of the Internet, the new media tools such as Facebook and Twitter
are increasingly being used for the international student recruitment as a ‘‘key to
communicating with this generation of students’’ according to the CEO of National Association
for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), Joyce Smith (NACAC, 2009, as quoted by
Wankel and Wankel 2011:26). The detailed discussion of these and other sources of
information is provided later on in this paper.
It is believed that if the information search is successfully performed by a consumer, it
should subsequently yield a group of products or services, known as possible alternatives, a
consideration set, or evoked set (Pride, Ferrell, 2009). Having these in mind, consumer
usually begins an alternative evaluation (ibid, 2009). This involves examining the criteria
that will be used for making a final choice (Babin, Harris, 2010). According to Babin and
Harris (2010:232), evaluative criteria are “attributes, features, or potential benefits that
consumers consider when reviewing possible solutions to a problem”. These characteristics
may be objective and subjective to an individual and some characteristics may carry more
weight than others (William et al., 2009:132). Finally, based on this criteria the consumer
rates and eventually evaluate products or services in the consideration set (ibid, 2009). With
regard to services, such as international education, Verma and Metters (2008) noted that
intangibility of services creates problem for consumers in the stage of evaluation and choice.
At this stage, students evaluate the alternatives of study destinations, using the objective and
subjective criteria such as a cost of the tuition fees, academic quality, student environment
etc. to decide which country is most attractive with respect to these criteria.
Overall, the process discussed before can be conceptualized into a following model:
Problem Recognition:
I want to study abroad
Information Search:
Where can I study
Alternative Evaluation:
Which country is most
attractive to me as a
study destination?
Figure 4: Three steps of Student Decision-Making Process. Source: Own model. Based on Engel
et al. (1968), William et al. (2009), Tyagi et al. (2004), Kozak, (2001)
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Motivations for studying abroad and choosing a study
With significant number of students enrolled at foreign HEIs today and predictions of its
substantial growth in the future, recruiters and marketers today are constantly seeking to
acquire a better understanding of the underlying factors that prompt students to seek study
abroad and that attract the students to specific study destinations. Initially used in 1966 by
U.S. Demographer Everett Lee to describe immigrant migration patterns, the push-pull
theory has been firstly related to the international education in Lakshmana G.Rao’s book
“the Brain Drain and Foreign Students” published in 1979 (Bohman, 2009). According to the
model, the push and pull factors are usually inherent in the source country, host country, and
some in the individual students who are considering studying abroad (Agarwal and Winkler,
1985; Altbach, 2004; Mazzarol and Soutar, 2002; Pimpa, 2003). This concept remains highly
popular today, however its form has been altered throughout the years of studies and is
constantly being developed by different authors today.
3.9.1 Push-pull factors
One of the most well-known studies of push-pull theory which explained the motivational
drives of students in deciding to study away from their home countries (push factors) and
their selection process of a study destination (pull factors) was conducted by Altbach in
1998. According to Altbach (1998), the ‘push’ (unfavourable) factors in home countries and
‘pull’ (favourable) factors in host countries “act as the two forces that affect the decision
making on studying abroad”. Kemp and Roger (2006:29) believe that “most push factors are
intangible and intrinsic desires of the individual to travel”, while pull factors emerge as a
result of “the attractiveness of a destination perceived by the traveller and include tangible
resources”. In addition, push and pull factors are dependent on both student source and
destination country (ibid, 2006). Mazzarol and Soutar (2002) later developed Altbach's
conclusions and identified a more explicit list of motivational factors associated with the
push-pull concept, which are commonly used today. Push factors
According to Mazzarol et al. (2002), the push factors are weighed first before pull factors. In
such an incidence, students usually choose to study abroad before deciding on which
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country they would like to study in. Push factors are seen as cognitive processes and sociopsychological motivations that “predispose people to travel” (Chon, 1989). Mazzarol et al.
(2002) surveyed 1,606 students from four countries (Taiwan, India, China and Indonesia)
and concluded the following key 'push' factors that motivated these students to study
1. A lack of access to higher education in their home countries
2. Superior perception of overseas qualifications
3. Perception of ability (or inability) to gain entry into local programs, owing largely to
limited available placements
4. Gaining a better understanding of western culture
5. Intention to immigrate after graduation
A substantial number of researches, which aimed to explain the reasons why students from a
particular regions make decisions to study in HEIs abroad, followed the theory suggested by
Mazzarol and Soutar (Li, Bray, 2007; Muche and Wächter, 2005; Pimpa, 2004; Maringe,
Carter; 2007; Yang, 2007, Kemp and Roger, 2006). These studies were conducted on
students from both developing and developed countries11, however, so far, most of the
research has been conducted in developed countries (Padlee, 2010). This is because “the
most familiar pattern of cross-border student flow used to be from developing to developed
countries” (Varghese, 2009) representing previously discussed ‘vertical mobility’ of students
(Teichler, 2009).
Nonetheless, since Mazzarol's study was conducted in 2002, hence 9 years before writing
this paper, it is likely to be bounded by a limited validity. This is because according to
Woodfield (2010:132), “the motivations and rationales for International Student Mobility
(ISM) are constantly evolving, both for students and for their funders and supporters.” In
addition, the theory has been criticized for not taking individual characteristics into
consideration (Peyton, 2005). Therefore, newer studies should also be included in this
literature review. Recently, authors such as Woodfield et al. (2010), Waters (2009), Santiago
The terms developing and developed countries are classified according their GNP of IMF Classification
(IMF, 2002). Examples of the developing countries are: Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, etc.,
while developed countries are the USA, France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc. (Binsardi,
Ekwulugo, 2003:8)
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et al. (2008) and a variety of other researchers brought an extensive contribution to the
“push” elements as well as “pull” factors which are discussed later.
Varghese supports Mazzarol’s et al. assumptions about the ‘superior perception of overseas
qualifications’ adding that a better quality of education usually associated with a welldeveloped country is an attractive proposition to prospective students seeking an
international education. In relation to this, Varghese lists “great range of specialist subjects”
abroad as another important “push” factor (2009:549). Other drivers compelling student
mobility is a “preferred pedagogic style (promoting creativity over role learning) as well as
opportunity to become proficient”, or improve a foreign language (Waters, 2009). Woodfield’s
(2010) contribution brought up other important circumstances which may motivate
students to undertake education abroad, such as being able to enhance “future career
opportunities”, which is sometimes expressed as ‘employability’ (Varghese, 2009), as well as
receiving economic returns back home. In addition, a variety of authors suggested that the
influence of family recommendations and opinions is an important factor in overseas study
decisions undertaken by students (Shank, Quintal and Taylor, 2005; Bourke 2000; Moogan,
Baron and Harris, 1999). Table 5 below lists all of the previously discussed ‘push’ factors.
Push factors
To become proficient or improve a foreign Waters (2009),
To learn a new culture and a way of teaching
Mazzarol et al (2002), Waters (2009)
A difficult access to higher education in a Mazzarol et al. (2002), OECD (2010)
home country
To take an advantage of a great range of Waters (2009)
specialist subjects abroad
A perception of a high quality of education Mazzarol et al. (2002),
abroad and a prestige of owning a diploma
from abroad
To enhance future career possibilities and Woodfield et al. (2010), OECD (2010)
enhance economic returns in a home
Influence of parents and family members
Shank et al. (2005)
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Intention to immigrate after graduation
Mazzarol et al (2002), Woodfield et al.
Figure 5: Summary of ‘push’ factors which motivate students to study abroad Pull factors
Santiago et al. (2008), believes that one of the most important factors which acts as both a
push factor and pull factor is a reputation of international qualifications. In this respect,
Pimpa (2005) claims that reputation of TEIs in a host country is a key driver of mobility flow.
Mazzarol (2002) also indicated that the destination’s reputation for quality in the student’s
home country is an important factor in a decision-making process. One of the reasons why, is
that in some countries (especially developing countries) “foreign degree holders enjoy a
premium in the labour market” (Varghese, UNESCO, 2009:27). As explained by Teichler
(2010:9), “it is a longstanding practice in higher education to seek knowledge abroad, where
the highest quality is offered”. However, due to ‘asymmetries’ in academic quality
assessments of research performance of TEIs or Global rankings, and hence the
inconsistency of information provided to prospective students, it often occurs that students
base their enrolment decisions on the way they perceive a reputation of a country instead on
a reliable reference (Santiago et al 2008). Santiago et al. (2008:255) explains this problem
as a lack of “single global quality assurance agency, which would give the ranking systems the
role of a quality regulator for international students”.
Another link between the international study choice and ‘pull’ factors is the “global rankings
of universities and the preferred destination of students for their studies abroad” (Santiago et
al.2008). Varghese (2009) exemplified this by suggesting that “universities in the USA occupy
the top positions in the global ranking, which encourages many students to apply to
universities in the USA”. However, it has been determined that 60% of students choose a
destination country before choosing a university, whereas 40% is choosing university first
(Obst and Foster, 2006 as referred by Kemp and Roger, 2006).
Mazzarol et al (2002:84) points out that another important pull factor in student decisionmaking process is the “overall knowledge and awareness of the host country in the student’s
home country, which is influenced by the overall availability of information about the potential
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destination country and the ease with which students can obtain the information”. This factor
is important, since according to Peter and Olson (2008) students may have different levels of
knowledge about the country and interpret given information differently, which in a result
may lead to a different purchase decision.
Available literature on push-pull model also suggests that living costs and several closely
related factors such as the availability of a part-time employment during study abroad, living
expenses or tuition fees are likely to ‘pull’ a student to a specific location (OECD, 2010;
Mazzarol et al., 2002; Lasanowski et al., 2009; Santiago et al.,2008). According to Lasanowski
et al. these are not “considered by international students in isolation” but rather as a ‘whole
study package’ (2009:22). Santiago et al (2008) specifies living expenses as “travel fares,
health cover, study materials and institutional fees”. In addition, Mazzarol et al. (2002)
believes that living costs also include social costs such as crime, safety and racial
discrimination, as well as presence of students from the student’s country in the host
country. As all of the previously listed living costs often place a high burden on international
student’s budgets, “the possibility and availability of part-time work may therefore figure
prominently among the criteria considered by prospective students” (Santiago et al., 2008: ).
Moreover, a level of employment opportunities available on graduation, related to the
economic position of a host country was also found to be important for prospective
international students (Lasanowski et al. 2009). This is because international students often
express an increasing willingness of securing employment in the destination country
(Rogers and Kemp, 2006). In this context, economic and political conditions in a host
country appear to be important, since they condition international students’ ‘employability’
in the market (Santiago et al, 2008; Li, 2007). Hence, countries and universities are
acknowledging that more and more students are basing their decision of where to study on
where their post-graduation job prospects look most promising (Labi, Aisha, 2010). Indeed,
international student’s destinations also highlight the attractiveness of higher education of
some countries with regard to subsequent immigration opportunities (OECD, 2010).
Another ‘pull’ factors which is believed to have an influence of student’s choice of study
destination, is a ‘geographic proximity’, which according to Mazzarol et al. (2002:83) is
related to the “geographic (and time) proximity of the potential destination country”. However,
one can state that the geographic proximity is also connected to financial costs, since
depending on the distance between the host and home country, student is affected by the
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travel costs to a variable extent (Woodfield, 2010).
Moreover, as previously indicated, English progressively became a global language (Santiago
et al., 2008). This affects international students’ needs as they frequently choose a native
English-speaking country to improve their English language skills (OECD, 2010:316).
Therefore, in many non-native English-speaking countries in Europe there exist “national
policies to support and encourage institutions to develop English-language provision (and in
some cases provision in other languages) designed to help recruit international students and to
provide home students with the language skills to help encourage more outward mobility in
both study and employment.” (Woodfield, 2010: 30) In any ways, students “intending to study
abroad are likely to have learned English in their home country” (OECD, 2010: 316).
Alike in case of ‘push’ factors, the influence of family or friends also may influence a student
choice with regard to a study destination. With regard to this ‘pull’ factor, it was suggested
that if a student has friends or family studying in the same country or same institution, their
personal experiences may influence the student’s choice of country, since their
“recommendations are seen as objective, reliable and not commercially oriented” (Lu,
Mavondo, Qiu, 2009). The importance of social links in international student choice were
also underlined by Mazzarol et al. (2002) who pointed out that family and friends do not
necessarily need to live in the destination country at the time, but they could have studied
there previously.
Other motivational factors which may influence the study destination choice of a prospective
student include the geographical climate of a host country (IOM, 2008; Mazzarol et al., 2002)
and cultural attractions, study environment and lifestyle perceived (IOM, 2008; Santiago et
al., 2008). Table 6 below lists all of the previously discussed ‘pull’ factors.
Pull factors
Ratings of a host country's TEIs in the Global Santiago et al. (2008),
rankings of universities
Academic quality of education in a host Mazzarol et al. (2002), Varghese (2009),
Pimpa (2005)
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Possibility of learning or improving a foreign OECD, (2010)
Geographical climate
Mazzarol et al. (2002)
Student environment, lifestyle, culture
Santiago et al. (2008), IOM (2002)
Economic and political conditions in a host Santiago et al. (2008), Li (2007)
Safety of a host country
Mazzarol et al. (2002)
Social links with a host country (e.g. family Mazzarol et al. (2002), Lu et al (n.d.)
or friends studying/living there or in the
Cost of living : tuition fees, transportation, Santiago
availability of a part-time job
Mazzarol et al. (2002), Lasanowski (2009)
Variety of programmes with English as a
language of instruction
Santiago et al. (2008) Woodfield (2010)
Availability of information about tertiary Mazzarol et al. (2002)
education of a host country in Poland
Geographic proximity
Mazzarol et al.(2002) Woodfield (2010)
Figure 6: Summary of ‘pull’ factors which motivate students to select a particular study
destination (country)
3.10 Partial conclusion: How do push-pull factors relate to customer
decision-making process?
As it been suggested, the push/pull factors are extremely useful in explaining how students
are repulsed by various factors and attracted by numerous attributes of a study destination
during their decision making (Yoon & Uysal 2005). Basing our assumptions on the fact that
the three steps of customer decision-making may act as a backbone in explaining the student
decision-making (although to a certain extent), we can therefore focus on examining of what
is the relationship between the push and pull motivations and the three steps in student
decision-making process.
Problem recognition: I want to study abroad
As previously indicated, during the first stage of customer decision making process,
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customers recognize that they have a need for a product/service which will allow them to
achieve a desired state. In the case of an international student, desired state means studying
abroad. Because the need for a desired state may be triggered by internal or external stimuli
(Tyagi, Kumar, 2004; Lamb, Hair, McDaniel, 2007), a variety of push factors or a single factor,
which relate to recognition of needs not being met at home may act as internal stimuli
(Moutinho, 1987; Gartner, 1993; Correia, 2007). Likewise, the pull factors which are a result
of a perceived attractiveness of a study destination may serve as external stimuli (Gartner,
1993; Burns, 2010).
Information search: Where can I study abroad?
Being influenced by both push and pull factors, students search for information about
alternatives that may respond to their needs in order to make the right decision (Woodside,
2009). The resources used during the information search may vary and are conditioned by
the type of motivations driving the students (Cha, Mccleary, Uysal 1995). For example, if the
student is highly motivated by the ratings of a host country's TEIs in the Global rankings of
universities (‘pull’ factor), he/she is more likely to use the Global rankings of universities as
a source of the information needed to make a purchase decision.
Alternative evaluation: Which country is most attractive to me as a study destination?
After the information collection stage of the decision-making process, the prospective
student is faced with possible alternatives which positively correspond to his/her evaluative
criteria (Pride, Ferrell, 2009). It has been suggested that the “attractive products and services
serve as pull factors that influence the final decision” (Heitmann, 2011:40). Therefore, pull
factors make one study destination more attractive than the alternatives. On the other hand,
when several destinations have the same attraction attributes,” preference is likely to be
given to a destination which is perceived as most likely to match push motivations with pull
destination attributes” (Baloğlu, Uysal 1996).
3.11 National-level internationalization strategies for improving
inward mobility of international students
Today, national governments and individual institutions worldwide are gradually attaching a
greater significance to developing a strategic approach to internationalization (Woodfield,
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2009). Consequently, “branding and marketing are no longer the exclusive purview of the
business world” (West, 2008:54). Yet, only 15 years ago, the concept of marketing and
promotion of higher education offerings have often not been viewed as a serious
internationalization activity and was usually regarded as deeply un-academic and
commercial (Wachter, 2008).
Particularly with regard to meeting the target of increasing the international student
internationalization strategies of national HE sectors and institutions (Woodfield, 2010).
During 1990s in Europe, various national governments which carried the responsibility for
marketing of higher education “felt that it had become necessary to encourage their higher
education institutions to proactively seek to enroll a larger number of international students”
(EHEA, 2009:20). Nevertheless, Woodfield (2009:2) believes that in the European context,
“higher education institutions (HEIs) still require significant initial government support and
direction to enhance their international activities beyond traditional interregional academic
linkages”. Indeed, according to a number of sources, national governments play a critical
role in providing effective policies and various forms of measures and supports to facilitate
the promotion of their higher education in the international arena (Wachter, 2008;
Woodfield, 2010b; Obst, 2008). West (2008:54) suggests that this approach is relatively
new, since countries and regions have just recently started “jumping on the branding
bandwagon”. In addition, Woodfield (2010b) suggests that countries such as the USA and
UK, which have historically achieved high levels of visibility and strong reputations for
quality worldwide, have had it easier to market internationally, while a majority of other
countries need to put more effort with regard to enhancing the visibility and awareness of
their HE sectors through national branding and targeted marketing activities in different
parts of the world.
Therefore, in the context of proposing an improved strategy for the Danish Agency for
International Education concerning an increased recruitment of Polish students to Denmark,
it is crucial to review the available theory on national-level promotional activities and
structures which can be established in order to support such activities. The following part
draws from a literature provided by a number of authors (Wachter, 2008; ACA, 2005;
Woodfield, 2009). Among the wide range of activities which being implemented in order to
promote national HE systems and increase the recruitment of foreign students, the
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strategies most commonly discussed include conducting a market research, developing a
central agency and a central website, creating a national education brand, taking a part in
the education fairs, opening information offices in key countries and traditional campaigns
through media. The scope of these activities largely depends “on the size and the budget of
the organisation in charge and of the importance accorded to marketing higher education in a
given national context” (ACA, 2005:71).
3.11.1 Market research and analysis of competition
Wachter (2008:27) suggest that one of the important national-level strategies leading to an
increased international student recruitment is an investment into a background research,
such as marketing research to explore the “potential of their country’s higher education
institutions in a given country or region” and hence better position themselves
internationally. In particular, such a research involves collecting marketing information on
the competition and an analysis of student profiles and their decision-making (Woodfield,
2010). Therefore, the following section will provide a closer look at the theory of market
analysis and students (customers) profiling. Since the student decision-making process has
been already thoroughly examined in the previous part of this thesis it has been left out from
this discussion.
The search of information on the competition is a core task of a ‘competitor analysis’, which
involves collecting a superior knowledge about the competitors predominately to gain a
competitive advantage (Babette, Bensoussan, Fleisher, 2008:49). Competitior analysis starts
with the task of ‘competitor identification’ (Smith et al., 1992), which involves classifying
candidate competitors on the basis of similarities in terms of their resources and the
number of markets in which these entities compete against each (Peteraf and Bergen, 2001;
Hitt, Ireland, Hoskisson, 2010). From a national perspective on the international education,
the defined competitors targeting foreign students are other countries’ TEIs (Varghese,
2009). After the competitors have been identified the second step in the process of
collecting marketing information is the actual competitor analysis, which results in the
information that pinpoints the current strategy strengths and weaknesses of the
competitors and hence, highlights own advantages as well as threats (Baugh, Hamper, 1995;
McLoughlin, Aaker, 2010).
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According to Woodfield (2010) the market research in international higher education also
frequently involves analyzing student profiles. It is clear that the higher education provider,
like any other service provider, has to firstly decide on which ‘consumers/customers’ it will
serve (Armstrong et al., 2009). It does this “by dividing the market into segments of customers
(market segmentation) and selecting which segments it will go after (target marketing)”
(Armstrong et al., 2009:54). Segments are selected based on the ones which offer the best
opportunities (ibid, 2009), and the process of market segementation has been defined as
“dividing a market into distinct groups of buyers who have different needs, characteristics or
behavior and who might require separate products or marketing programmes” (Armstrong et
al., 2009:54). In this context, the selected segments of students as customers are referred to
as ‘target market’ to which an organization wishes to enter (Kotler, Armstrong, 2010).
3.11.2 Central agency
Woodfield (2010b) believes that the best way of increasing the visibility and awareness of
the national HE sectors is by using central agencies otherwise referred to as specialized
organizations. Central agencies are established to “enhance the international visibility and
attractiveness of the country’s higher education as a whole” (Wachter, 2008:4). As previously
indicated, in the majority of cases this task has been administered to central agencies by
their national governments (EHEA, 2009:20).
3.11.3 National education brand
ACA (2005:75) poses one major question with regard to international student recruitment
on a national level: “When does a country have a “brand”, and when does it simply provide
information on study opportunities?”. According to this association, “boundaries are blurred,
and most countries engaged in national-level education marketing at least have an implicit
national education brand” (ibid, 2005:75). Indeed, a number of studies point out the
importance of developing and promoting a ‘national education brand’ as a crucial aspect of
marketing national HE system abroad (for example Wachter, 2008; ACA, 2005; Waters,
2006). Such a brand is usually developed and managed by a central agency (ACA, 2005). The
most important condition which has to be met if a central agency wishes the brand to be
successful in the long term is that a “brand needs to be embraced by the sector and taken care
of” (ACA, 2005:10).
Waters (2006:1056) suggests that the national education brand has contributed to the
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“significant (…) international marketization” of educational systems of various Western
governments. It has been effective in “actively pursuing overseas customers whilst continually
expanding the range of “products” on offer” (Waters, 2006:1056). In addition, it has been
noted that a ‘national education brand’ enhances a unique ‘identity12’ of the particular
country’s higher education (Wachter, 2008; ACA, 2009). A distinctive identity of a country’s
higher education is of a key importance since, as previously mentioned, a vast majority of
students choose the country of study prior to selecting a particular institution (Teichler,
2000). This is why, according to ACA (2005), most of the important international education
providers have carried out intensive market research in a search for their countries’ unique
selling points (USPs) to design their national education brands. National education brand as a product brand
A nation brand can be defined as „the total sum of all mental associations about a nation in
the mind of international stakeholders” (Fan, 2008:5).The longstanding interaction between
place of origin and a brand has been a focus by numerous authors (e.g. see Ruby, 2010; Fan,
2008; Usunier, Lee, 2009). When a single company or an organization uses a country’s
name, logo or other “mental associations about a nation in the mind of international
stakeholders” we can call this nation branding (Fan, 2008:5). Being a national brand13,
‘national education brand’ can be treated as a product or service brand during the process of
branding (Balmer and Grewy, 2003; Wang and Pizam, 2011). Baring this in mind, it is
important to provide a definition of a brand:
“a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods
and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of
competition” (American Marketing Association, as quoted in Argenti, 2002:87)
In respect to this definition, elements of the brand may commonly include a brand logo,
brand slogan, brand name or packaging (Buttle and Westoby, 2006; Kotler, Pfoertsch, Michi,
2006), namely all assets which are critical to delivering and communicating the customer
experience (Gilmore, 1997; Cambridge, 2002). Some researchers, (e.g. Kotler et al. 2006;
Olins, 1990) refer these to ‘visual corporate elements’ and a consistent use of these elements
Brand identity is „the unique set of brand associations that establishes a relationship with the target”
(Aaker 1996:3).
A nation brand can be defined as „the total sum of all mental associations about a nation in the mind of
international stakeholders” (Fan, 2008:5)
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in company-owned properties consists of a corporate design (Kotler et al., 2006). Buttle and
Westoby (2006:1184) conclude that brand elements “make it easier to achieve the goals of
creating and enhancing brand awareness”. This is because as pointed out by several
researchers (Wachter, 2008; Keller, 2003; Argenti, 2002) brand elements may construct its
distinctive brand image to differentiate it from competitors (the uniqueness mentioned
before). In this context, a distinctive value proposition, which in a definition refers to “a
statement of the functional, emotional and self-expressive benefits delivered by the brand that
provide value to the customer” (Schultz et al., 2009:302) communicated through the brand
elements may help a brand to stand out from its competition. However, this may only occur if
the value proposition focuses “on the needs of the brand’s customer groups, not the marketer’s
needs, goals, or desires” (ibid, 2009:302).
The following is the discussion of the brand elements needed to explain the constructs of
Danish National Education Brand in section This discussion ends with an
explanation of ‘brand awareness’ and brand ‘image’ which is also necessary for a later
consideration of a case study. Brand name
According to Marconi and AMA (2000:4), “having the right name can be as important as
having the right product or service.” It has been recommended that in order to be successful,
brand name should be simple, distinctive, meaningful, compatible with the product or
service and legally protectable (Chernatony, McDonald and Wallace, 2010:109). Riezebos et
al. (2003) distinguished three types of brand names: suggestive, associative and descriptive.
The former refers to the possible advantages of the consumption or usage of the product or a
service (ibid, 2003). On the other hand, according to Riezebos et al., a brand name is
associative when it suggests a desired experience of the brand. The third type, descriptive
brand name, refers to the product as a whole in a direct manner and may represent the
characteristics, function or composition of a product or a service (ibid, 2003:113). Brand logo
As a brand element, a logo can be defined as “a graphic representation or image that triggers
memory associations of the target brand” (Walsh, Winterich, Mittal, 2010:76). Brand logo is a
substantial element, since it features on all direct and indirect communication vehicles, such
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as packaging, promotional materials, uniforms, business cards, letterheads etc (Bottomly
and Doyle, 2006). Given that brand logo can represent a unique brand identity, it is
important that brand logo is somewhat connected to the brand name (Buttle and Westoby,
Buttle and Westoby (2006:1182) suggest that the “logo creation is a base element in brand,
corporate, and organizational identity”. In addition with regard to types of brand logos we
can distinguish the following: typographical, figurative, and abstract images, or combining
some of these elements (ibid, 2006). The typographical logo entails a logo “with the name
given a stylized font and colour scheme” (ibid, 2006:1182). By contrast, the figurative logo
“incorporates a pictographic representation of the brand name into its design” (Zaichkowsky,
2006:261). Lastly, abstract logo “works by suggesting meaning” and it is often “vague by
design” (McWade, 2005:120), which means that sometimes is “may not be understood as
intended” (ibid, 2005:120). Brand slogan
Amongst the three constructs of a brand, brand slogans continue to receive most interest
from both practitioners and researchers (Dahlen and Rosengren, 2004; Wang and Pizam,
2011). The reason being that slogans may have several positive effects on their brands
(Dahlen, Rosengren 2004). These may include facilitating the establishment and
maintenance of a strong brand identity, enhanced brand differentiation and brand recall
(see below) and improved brand evaluations (ibid, 2004:151).
By definition, brand slogan is a short phrase or a word that is used to communicate either
descriptive or persuasive information about the brand (Merriam-Webster, 2011; Keller,
2003). This information aims to express its characteristic position or goal to be achieved
(ibid, 2011).
Within the international landscape, a considerable number of scholars underlined the
importance of adapting brand slogans to the cultural characteristics of a country in which a
brand is supposed to be introduced and maintained (for example Hall, 1990; Hollensen,
2009; Blakeman, 2011). According to Blakeman (2011:13) “along with language, cultural
differences must be considered to avoid appearing disrespectful or generally out of touch with
the target audience”. He concludes that “brands that ignore cultural differences do so at their
own peril and expense” (ibid, 2011:13).
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The communication of a company or an organisation which occurs through (although not
exclusively) brand elements has a direct impact on the organization’s ‘brand equity’.
Therefore, “the adequate choice and coordination of the brand elements is crucial when it
comes to brand equity” (Kotler, Pfoertsch, Michi, 2006:92). From a consumer point of view,
brand equity is “the differential effect that brand knowledge has on a consumer’s response to
the marketing of the brand” (Keller, 1996:104). Therefore, one way of measuring a
company’s or oganisation’s communication results is “by assessing its net effect on the ‘brand
equity’” (van Riel, Fombrun, 2007:7). In particular, brand equity “measures the strength of
the consumer’s associations with the brand” and consists of brand awareness (brand
recognition and brand recall) and brand image (the strength, favorability, and uniqueness of
consumer associations) (ibid, 2007:7). These two dimensions of brand knowledge are
explained below. Brand awareness
The concept of brand awareness is essential in the brand theory, since it is seen as a key
strategic asset which can be extremely sustainable (McLoughlin, Aaker, 2010). According to
a number of researches, consumers assign a greater value to a brand they have heard of
than to one they do not know anything about (Pride, Ferrell, 2009:132; McLoughlin, Aaker,
2010:177). In this context, brand awareness “is the consumer’s ability to identify a brand
under different conditions” (Keller, 2003:51). This ability may take a form of a brand
recognition or brand recall (Radder, 2008). As stated by Van Gelder (2005: 149) brand
recognition is created by “increasing the familiarity of the brand through repetitive exposure”.
On the other hand, brand recall occurs due to “strong associations with the appropriate
product category or other relevant purchase or consumption cues” (Keller, Aperia, Georgson,
2008:320). In conclusion, “anything that causes consumers to experience a brand name, logo,
packaging or slogan can potentially increase familiarity and awareness of that brand element”
(ibid, 2008:320).
In addition, in a situation in which perceived risk is generally higher in a service selection
decision, which relates to selection of international education as previously discussed, brand
awareness “can play an important role as a risk reliever, giving consumers greater confidence
in their decision making and increasing trust” (Mourad et al., 2011:403). Gabbott and Hogg
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(1998) believes that this is because a brand acts as a source of information, and the more
information it provides, the less purchasing risk is resonates among consumers. Brand image
Brand image is often discussed in the context of previously mentioned brand identity (Aaker,
1996; Kotler et al. 2006). However, the difference between the two is that the brand image
“is a more tactical asset that can change from time to time” whereas brand identity is “a longlasting strategic asset that represents the timeless values of the brand” (Kotler et al., 2006:94)
According to de Mooij (2009:275), a brand image is “what consumers see of the brand and
how they consequently perceive and mentally integrate all messages”. In other words, it is a
“representation of the brand in the mind of the consumer” (ibid, 2009:277). Ideally, the brand
image reflects the intended brand identity, however it is often not the case (ibid, 2009).
3.11.4 Central Website
Apart from developing a national education brand, scholars recommend that a second
element of a national campaign aiming to attract international students should be an online
presence, such as a central website (ACA, 2009; Wachter, 2008). The website is “the key
instrument for guiding potential international students to the information they seek in order to
make their destination decision and later enroll” (Wachter, 2008:26). As in case of national
education brands’ names, a noticeable trend in this type of promotion is that the internet
address of central website often starts with “Study-in…”14 (Wachter, 2008). In addition, it is a
frequent phenomenon that the central website for promotion of national HE systems is
based on the national education brand, i.e. represents it (ACA, 2009).
Specific recommendations regarding the website design include the following (ACA, 2009,
ACA, 2005; Wachter, 2008; Kim, 2008):
Lists various opportunities to study in a country in the form of a searchable database
Contains a section about the country itself and its higher education system, as well as
practical information such as accommodation, work etc.
Serves as a portal to the websites of individual institutions and their offers
Examples include “Study in Poland”, “Study in Sweden”, “Study in Denmark” etc. (ACA, 2009; OECD, 2011)
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More advanced websites provide relevant pages in the languages more frequently
spoken at a global level and in country-specific variations
It is a significant advantage if such a website offers an online application service for
foreign students Accessibility of central website
Albeit its attractiveness and functionality, it is of a critical importance that the central
website can be easily accessible by prospective students. As indicated by Davis and Iwanow
(2009) drawing traffic to a website requires a great deal of disciplined work, no matter how
excellent the content of the site its. Therefore, it is important to take a look at some of the
tools which will allow us to indicate the level of accessibility of the “Study in Denmark”
website to Polish students in the later chapters of this thesis. Search engine optimization
According to Dolin (2010:79), unless the students know the exact URL of the website of the
content they are looking for, they probably “open their preferred web browser15 and enter the
name of a favourite search engine16”. Here, is where the search engine optimization (SEO)
gets incredibly relevant. SEO is seen as a practice of trying to improve the site’s search
engine results ranking (Pakroo, 2010). When a student seeks for information about
international education via a web browser, he/she usually types relevant keyword17 in the
web browser (Davis, Iwanow, 2010). In this context, content that includes appropriate
words and phrases may improve the SEO (Pakroo, 2010:256). Brenn-White (2010) stresses
that in case of international student recruitment, marketers need to be sensitive to language
variables of the keywords that students use when they look for education abroad.
Being the largest, most commonly used search engine in the world (Phillips, Young, 2009),
Google provides a variety of keyword-oriented tools that can be used for search engine
A web browser is “a client-based software program that enables a user to display and interact with text,
images, videos (…) and other information generally written in hypertext markup language (HTML) and
displayed as a Web page on a Web site on a local area network” (Ec-Council, 2009:1)
A search engine is a “specialized program that can perform full-text or keyword searches of Web sites
fitting the search criteria from which the user can visit any or all of the found sites” (Andreas et al. (2001:15)
Keyword refers to “words or short phrases describing the product, service, or information (…) that a
visitor might use in a search engine to find the client’s site” (Jenkins, 2007:241).
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optimization. In particular, these include the Google Sets, Google Trends, Google AdWords
Keyword Tool and Google Insights for Search (Jerkovic, 2010:229). Although numerous
researchers believe that all of these tools are quite useful for obtaining keyword suggestions
(Jerkovic, 2010; Enge et al., 2010; Tonkin, Whitmore, Cutroni, 2010; Davis, 2011), research
conducted prior to writing this thesis indicated relevant and useful implications for the case
study particularly when Google AdWords Keyword Tool was employed. Therefore, it is important
to review the literature discussing this tool in more detail. Google AdWords
It has been suggested that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is “one of the most powerful
tools you can use to start your keyword research process” (Geddes, 2010:52) and therefore
“standard for keyword selection in the SEO world” (Bailyn, Bailyn, 2011:23). It is designed to
use a massive amount of data of search queries held by Google (Geddes, 2010) to provide
statistical information about how many people search for given keywords from given
locations, as well as a list of related terms and their search volumes (Prince, 2010; Bailyn,
Bailyn, 2011; Enge et al., 2010).
3.11.5 Higher education fairs
Variety of authors believe that another element of a successful campaign promoting national
education abroad is an establishment or participation of events of various kinds such as
higher education fairs (ACA, 2009; Wachter, 2008). It is believed that they create “a forum for
the direct encounter with potential students (and their parents)” (Wachter, 2008:25).
Wachter (2008) divides these fairs into three particular types. A first type of an international
education fair involves an event organized by a one single country (usually through the
national promotion agency) which involves the presence of representatives of individual
institutions from that country, who represent themselves through their own booths. Other
events are created by non-profit or commercial organizations which are country-neutral and
are open to all paying participants. The third type of an international education fair, which
Wachter (2008:26) named “the minimalist case” involve only the participation of a
promotional agency of a particular country and its higher education institutions. In addition,
some other forms of events are possible, taking a form of a “seminar-type get-togethers often
of a subject specific sort”, or meetings between “representatives of higher education
institutions from the host and the promoting country” (ibid, 2008:26).
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3.11.6 Media campaigns: Print Media, Radio and TV
The mass media campaigns were also found to be an effective recruiting method to national
international student recruitment (Mazzarol, 1998; Dunnet, 2000; Wachter, 2008). Typically,
these campaigns transport their messages and target a particular country via print media
and advertising such as brochures, prospectuses, nationwide newspapers and magazines, as
well as television and radio amongst others (Wachter, 2008; Brenn-White, 2010). Wachter
(2008:27) suggests that it is “common to combine a media campaign with a physical presence
(through fairs or other events) in the country”. With regard to educational fairs, it often occurs
that brochures and prospectuses are widely available and distributed to students at the
place of a fair (Bodycott, 2009). However, promotional print publications distributed
nationwide are associated with high costs (Brenn-White, 2010). Radio and television also
share this disadvantage to even higher extent (ibid, 2010).
3.11.7 Information offices abroad
Another recommended element of a successful promotion is having a permanent presence
in the target countries, involving setting up an information office (Wachter, 2008). Apart
from acting as service points for potential students ”whom they inform and counsel”, these
offices have an ability to successfully support structures for events or media campaings, or
other promotional arrangements (ibid, 2008). Wachter believes that only bigger agencies for
internationalisation, such as for example the British council or the German DAAD, “make the
considerable investment such as a permanent physical presence.” Otherwise, “this task is
delegated to the embassy or a cultural institute of the country in question” (ibid, 2008:28).
4.1 Poland as a priority market for international student recruitment
to tertiary institutions in Denmark
4.1.1 Background information: Denmark
Denmark (Danmark Kongeriget) is located in the Northern Europe and belongs to the group
of Scandinavian countries which include Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The territorial area
of the country amounts to over 43,000 km2, which includes the Jutland peninsula and over
400 islands, of which nearly one hundred are permanently occupied ( In 2011
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Denmark’s population was over 5.5 million inhabitants (Danmarks Statistik, 2011). Apart
from being a member of EU, Denmark is also a part of numerous supranational
organisations, such as the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Nations, the World
Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD).
With regard to the educational landscape in Denmark, there are currently eight universities
and thirteen specialist university-level institutions specialising in architecture, art, music,
etc. In addition, there are eight University Colleges (Professionshøjskoler) which offer
medium-cycle programmes, mainly professional bachelor's degrees, allowing gaining
competences to become a teacher, nurse, mid wife etc. (, 2011). Overall, there exist 57
higher education institutions in Denmark (Danish agency for international education, (ibid,
2011b). For the information about the educational structure in Denmark please refer to
appendix 2.
In the academic year 2009/2010, there were over 214 thousand students studying in the
tertiary institutions in Denmark (Danmark Statistik, 2010), which equalled to 67 % of the
population aged between 19 and 2418 and to around 4 % of the whole Danish population in
2010 (ibid, 2010).
The unemployment amongst young people aged between 15 and 24, belongs to one of the
smallest in Europe (along with Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway) and equaled to 7.1
percent in 2007 (Eurydice, 2009:42).
4.1.2 Background information: Poland
Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska) is located in Central Europe and currently inhabited by over
38 million people (GUS, 2011) making it the 6th biggest country in the European Union (EU)
in terms of population (Eurostat, 2010). The territorial area of the country amounts to over
312,000 km2, which is divided into 16 provinces also known as voivodeships,
(województwa) created for administrative purposes (GUGIK, 2011). Apart from being a
member of EU, Poland is also a part of the European Economic Area (EEA), the United
Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-
The equivalent age of a tertiary student according to the structure of Danish education (see appendix ).
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operation and Development (OECD) and other numerous supranational organisations.
As the largest country among the new members of the EU since 2004, Poland has one of
Europe’s youngest populations with almost half of its citizens aged less than 35 years old
(EUobserver, 2011). At the same time, Poland has one of the highest numbers of students
enrolled in tertiary educations in Europe – every year almost half a million young people
begin their education at universities and colleges (, n.d.). At present, there are
nearly 2 million students enrolled at TEIs (GUS, 2011) which represents approximately 5.3
% of all population and around 57 % of young people aged between 19 and 24 (ibid, 2011).
The number of population aged 19-2419 currently equals to over 3.5 million (PAP, 2011).
With regard to upper secondary education, within the population in the age range between
15 and 18 years old, 74% of young people are enrolled to the institutions offering some sort
of upper secondary education.
In 2010, the unemployment rate amongst young people aged 15-24 years old in Poland was
equal to approximately 23 percent, which was above the UE average of 20,5 percent (Gazeta
Wyborcza, 2011). In addition, a worrisome data shows that every third unemployment
person aged under 27, is a TEI graduate (ibid, 2011). Due to this situation, according to the
survey conducted by TNS OBOP for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, young people aged 19-26 years old
are prepared to work for as little as 2210 złoty20 (approximately 503 euro21) a month on
average (ibid, 2011). Indeed, the sociologist from Warsaw University, dr Marek Szopski
suggests that “today, a university diploma does not guarantees a graduate work, such as a
couple of years ago” (Gazeta Wyborcza, 2011). More specific information about Polish
secondary and tertiary education market is provided below. Secondary education market
In the 2010/2011 school year, population aged between 15-18 years in Poland, which
corresponds to the majority of levels of education in an upper secondary school22, around 74
% of young people have been enrolled to the upper secondary schools (GUS, 2011). In
particular, in the school year 2010/2011 out of approximately 1.9 million young poles aged
15-18, over 1.4 million were attending these types of schools (ibid, 2011).
The equivalent age of a tertiary student according to the structure of Polish education (see appendix ).
„Złoty” is a Polish currency. The amount given is after taxes (Gazeta Wyborcza, 2011a)
21 Calculation based on the exchange rate of 4.3787 zł./ 1 EUR from 24.10.2011
22 Please refer to description of Polish educational structure in appendix
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In the 2009/2010 school year, there were 4 938 general upper secondary schools (liceum
ogólnokształcące) in Poland which made up 44% of all upper secondary schools. Other
uzupełniające): 21%, technical upper secondary schools (technikum and ogólnokształcące
szkoły artstyczne): 29%, basic vocational schools (zasadnicze szkoły zawodowe i
przysposabiające do pracy): 21% and specialised general upper secondary schools (licea
profilowane): 6% (GUS, 2010). The Polish secondary education structure has been
illustrated in appendix 2.
In the academic year 2009/2010, for all types of upper secondary schools, the most
commonly taught foreign language was English, with approximately 95-97 % of pupils
studying it as a compulsory language (GUS, 2011). Tertiary education market
According to the latest available data, in the 2009/2010 academic year there was 0.2 % less
students enrolled at the TEIs in Poland compared to the academic year 2007/2008 (GUS,
2010). In particular, in 2007/08 there were 1987404 students enrolled in higher education,
whereas in 2009/2010 their number decreased to 1900014. However, in comparison to the
number of students enrolled in the academic year of 2000/2001, the lastly reported number
of students was higher by 19.9 % (ibid, 2010).
The number of graduates from TEIs is constantly increasing. In 2005, there were 391465
graduates in comparison to 439749 in 2009. The main reason for this is the demographic
changes which mean that there are fewer candidates for studies on a higher education level.
On the other hand, people born in the so-called period of baby boomers are currently ending
their studies (GUS, 2010). Figure 7 below represents the percentage of polish graduates by
specific field of study in 2008.
Polish graduates by the field of education as a % of total (2008)
and arts
business and
Not known
Health and
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Figure 7: Polish graduates by the field of education (2008) Source: UNESCO (2010:183)
In the academic year 2009/2010 the number of full-time students amounted to around 938
thousand, which equaled to 49.4 % of all students, while a number of part-time students
amounted to around 961 thousand which respectively equaled to 50.6 % of all students
(GUS, 2010).
The number of TEIs is gradually increasing from the academic year 2000/2001. While the
number of higher education institutions in 2000 was 310, by 2010, there were 157 more
institutions amounting to the total number of 467 (GUS, 2010). In all of the public tertiary
institutions education is free of charge for Polish nationals studying full-time, which is
granted by the Polish constitution (Instytut Sokratesa, 2010).
In addition, Polish students are very familiar with foreign languages. Over half of
them (55%) have at least a good level of English. The rest of the Polish students are familiar
with the basics. The second most popular language among Polish students is German - 13%
of students know it at least well, and 35% at least quite well (, 2011).
Warsaw is the biggest academic center in Poland, followed by Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań,
Łódź, Lublin, Gdansk and Katowice. In 2010, the institutions in these cities educated 43.4 %
of all tertiary students in Poland, with full-time students representing 53.3 % of the total
number of students in these academic centers (GUS, 2010). Figure 6 represents the number
of students and TEIs in specific voivodships in Poland.
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Figure 8: Number of tertiary students and HE institutions in Poland divided by voivodeships in
the academic year 2009/10. Source: Own illustration, based on GUS (2011).
4.1.3 Outward full-degree mobility of Polish students: Where do they go?
The following part aims to determine what are the current trends in study destinations of
Polish students attempting to pursue their full-degree studies in Europe. The research and
analysis was narrowed down to these criteria due to the scope of this thesis, and more
importantly, the extent of information required to address the main research question.
According to Chien and the UNESCO Institute for Statistic (2010) in 2007, Poland was
figured as one of the 15 major sending countries in the World based on the statistics of
mobility of international students. On a global scale, in 2007, the population of Polish
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students accounted for 1 % of all outwardly-mobile students with approximately 33
thousand of them studying abroad. Among the European countries, Polish students are the
5th most mobile students with regard to diploma mobility in Europe after respectively
students from Germany, France, Turkey23 and Italy (ibid, 2010). According to the UNESCO
data, it was estimated that in the academic year 2008/2009, over 32 thousand poles were
studying abroad for a full-degree diploma. In particular, Germany was their first choice
(10,797 students), followed by the U.K. (8,572 students), France (3,260 students), U.S.A.
(2,734 students) and Austria (1,637 students) (UNESCO, 2010:176). In addition, 9 out of 10
full degree students from Poland choose one of the European countries as their study
destination (UNESCO, 2010: 170).
In recent years, there exists a notable change in preferences of Polish students for the
destination countries within the European market. Although Germany remains to attract the
biggest share of polish students- in 2008 35.9% of Polish students enrolled at TEIs in Europe
studied in Germany (OECD, 2010:332), between the years 2003-2008, Germany reported a
30% decline in the number of Polish students (UNESCO, 2009). At the same time, the United
Kingdom (UK) observed a spectacular, nearly 10-fold increase in the number of Polish
students- from 964 people in 2004 to 9145 in 2009 (ibid, 2009). Not surprisingly it is the
second most common study destination of poles, with 22.2% of all of them studying in the
UK (OECD, 2010:332). Research shows that besides Germany, France also reported a decline
in the interest of Polish students, however it is still the third most popular choice with some
8.4 % of all Polish students abroad enrolled at HEIs in France in 2008 (ibid, 2010:322).
Figure 11 below represent this trend. In addition, Figure 12 graphically illustrates the
distribution of Polish students enrolled at TEIs in Europe at full-degree programmes.
Based on the report, it is not clear how many students from the European part of Turkey are mobile.
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United Kingdom
Figure 9: Number of Polish students studying abroad in the five major countries of destination
between 2000 and 2008. Source: own chart, based on UNESCO (2009) data.
Figure 10: Distribution of Polish students enrolled in the TEIs in Europe for full-degree studies
(2007). Source: EUROSTAT (2007)
4.1.4 Statistics regarding full-degree students from Poland in Denmark
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In 2008, only 2.1 percent of all Polish students studying abroad in one of the European
countries were enrolled to a Danish Higher Education institution (or other relevant tertiary
education in Denmark) (OECD, 2010:322). In particular, this amounted to a total of 407
students enrolled to a full-degree programme in all of the TEIs in Denmark in the academic
year 2008/09 (Danish Agency for International Education, see appendix
). Such a result
placed Denmark in a position of a 7th most popular country for Polish students, after
previously mentioned UK, France and Germany and Austria (4.2%), Italy (3.7%) and the
Netherlands (2.2%) amongst the European countries taken under consideration in the
research conducted in 2008 (OECD, 2010).
As illustrated by Figure 11 below, the number of international students from Poland has
been constantly growing between the academic years of 2000/01 and 2007/08, however
this tendency dropped in 2008/09.
Total number of international full-degree students from Poland
The Polish share of total international full-degree students in Denmark
Share of total enrolment of
international full-degree students
International full-degree students
from Poland
Figure 11: Number of international full-degree students from Poland enrolled at Danish TEIs in
the academic years 2000/01 to 2008/09. Source: The Danish Agency for International
Education (2011), please refer to appendix 4.
On the other hand, this trend has not been reflected by interest in all of the programmes. In
particular, the number of Polish AP degree students enrolled at Danish TEIs increased from
32 to 42 in natural sciences. In the same type of subject, the number of Master Students
increased from 12 to 16 and the number of PhD students in natural sciences increased from
5 to 7. A similar trend has been reported with regard to Polish students studying
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engineering. Regardless of these questionably meaningful changes, it is clear that Polish
students are losing interest in Danish HE educational offer in other programmes which
outnumbers the positive rate of interest in the mentioned programmes.
Figure 12 below represents a detailed illustration of numbers of polish students and their
levels of studies and the subject area (2008).
International students from Poland enrolled at Danish TEIs
based on their study areas and study levels (2008)
Number of students
Applied Bachelor
AP degree
Figure 12: International students in Poland enrolled at Danish TEIs based on their study areas
and levels (2008). Source: Danish Agency for International education (see appendix 4). Please
note: Groups with 3 or less individuals have been excluded from the data
4.1.5 Rationales for internationalisation: reasons for selecting a skilled-migration
As indicated by OECD (2010), the proportion of young people between 20 and 29 years old
in Denmark corresponds to less than 12 % of its total population. In addition, as explained
by Kemp and Roger (2006:83), due to the demographic changes, it is predicted that the “net
flow into the workforce from the education system” will decline dramatically over the next 20
years. These labour market challenges are not in the line with national policies which are
“intended to ensure that Denmark has an adequate and well-qualified workforce at its
disposal, necessary to maintain its competitive position as one of the world’s most prosperous
countries” (ibid, 2006:84). Having this in mind, it is clear that Denmark would greatly benefit
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from adapting a skilled-migration approach as its rationale for internationalization.
As the skilled-migration approach is characterized by the ability of targeting a variety of
markets, or areas (OECD, 2004) the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher
Education expressed its emphasis on the recruitment of Polish students (by administering
this task to the Danish Agency for International Education), which was a part of a broader
strategy to recruit highly skilled immigrants (Santiago, 2008) for several important reasons.
Firstly, as previously indicated, almost half of Polish population are aged under 35 and the
‘youth’ of international students has been noted as helping “to sustain the number of
working-age adults needed to support the growing pool of retired elderly” (Rogers and Kemp,
2006:16; Hawthorne, 2009). Secondly, with approximately 2 million students, Poland has
one of the highest number of students in Europe24 (Eurostat, 2008), which makes it a highly
lucrative market for talent recruitment. Thirdly, since a significant number of Polish
nationals are moving abroad as a part of work-related migration and many of them choose
Nordic Countries25 to do so (, see Figure 13 below), it is likely that these
countries are also seen as attractive work destinations by Polish students.
The rest
of the
Poles in
216.267 207.877 204.604
% in total
Figure 13: Number of internationals employed full-time in Germany, Nordic Countries and the
It comes on a 4th place after United Kingdom, Germany , Italy and France (Eurostat, 2008)
Including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland
Page | 71
rest of the EU/EEA between years 2008-2010. Source:
In fact, Polish students who are studying in Denmark are generally open to stay in Denmark
after graduation in order to seek employment. According to the ‘Danish International
Student Barometer’, a study conducted by the Danish Agency for International Education in
2008, Polish students were more open to start their careers in Denmark upon graduation
then other international students in general:
Do you plan on starting your professional
career in Denmark?
Polish students
N = 877
Figure 14: Expressed enthusiasm of Polish students to start a professional career in Denmark in
comparison to other international students. Source: Based on the data from the Danish
International Student Barometer (, 2008).
4.1.6 Target market
As suggested by OECD (2004b), the skilled-migration approach can target a variety of
markets, such as students from certain areas, undergraduate or research students, postgraduates, or students in a specific field, which generally results in a rise in the number of
international students. As it has been established, Danish government is significantly
interested in recruiting Polish students to higher education institutions in Denmark and in
subsequently integrating them into the labour market.
The target market within the Polish educational landscape selected by the Danish Agency
for International Education and agreed by the author of this thesis is closely related to the
statistics of Polish students in Denmark as presented by appendices 3 and 4. It becomes
evident that Denmark is in a need for Bachelor students, the amount of which does not
correspond to other study levels which Polish students are enrolled to in Denmark. This
state also concerns the enrollment to AP degree and the PhD programmes. Therefore the
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target market for Bachelor students is students from upper secondary schools in Poland in
the expected age range between 16 and 18 years old (see the Polish education structure in
appendix 1). In addition, with regard to Bachelor, A.P and PhD students, Polish students
enrolled in tertiary institutions at all levels should form another target group for the Danish
Agency for International Education. The target market for both groups include potential
Bachelor students since it sometimes occurs that apart from the common interest in
Bachelor studies expressed by the age group of 16-18, students and graduates who already
finished this level of study want to gain another Bachelor degree in a different study field.
Map showing the dissemination of Polish tertiary students provided on page 66, suggested
that areas with a highest amount of students should be targeted in particular. In particular,
the highest density of tertiary students can be noticed in the voivodeships with the central
cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Lodz, Wroclaw and Katowice.
4.2 Factors influencing the student decision-making process and
information search of Polish students
While deriving from the customer-decision making model and applying it to prospective
international students, the following section paints a picture of which push-pull factors act
as major motivational factors for Polish students and graduates considering taking up
studies abroad. In addition, this section also reveals which resources are most commonly
used by the students and graduates during the stage of information search. During the
empirical study, participants rated the importance of eight ‘push’ factors, twelve ‘pull’ factors
and had a selection of thirteen different sources of information as identified through the
literature review.
4.2.1 Push factors
According to the feedback received from the participants, their major motivation to study
abroad is “to learn a foreign language or improve it”, with 90% of all of them indicating this.
Second most important ‘push’ factor is “to learn a new culture and a new way of teaching”
(72.5%). The third most popular answer of Polish students and graduates was “to enhance
my future opportunities on a Polish market” (65.8%). It is therefore not surprising that a
similar factor: “a diploma from abroad will give me a certain amount of prestige in Poland”
received almost as many votes (64.2%). The fifth answer taken into consideration was “to
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continue living in the country of my study destination upon graduation” (36.7%). Figure 15
below illustrates these findings:
Why are you considering studying abroad?
I want to learn a I want to learn a
I would like to
A diploma from I want to continue
foreign language new culture and a enhance my future abroad will give
living in the
or improve it
way of teaching opportunities on a
me a certain
country of my
Polish market amount of prestige study destination
in Poland
upon graduation
Figure 15: Most important ‘push factors’ for Polish students and graduates considering to study
abroad. Source: Empirical study
4.2.2 Pull factors
Findings show that the main factor considered by Polish students and graduates in selecting
a study destination is tuition fees. According to the scale from 1 to 5, where 1 meant
'unimportant', 2 meant 'of little importance', 3 meant 'moderately important', 4 meant
'important' and 5 meant 'very important', this factor has scored 4. 4. The second factor
which was important were costs of living (4.29), followed by variety of programmes in
English (4.25), and possibility of learning and improving a foreign language, along with
possibility of finding a job upon graduation receiving the same amount of scores (4.23).
Figure 16 below represents these findings graphically:
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Figure 16: All of the ‘pull factors’ Polish students and graduates are considering while selecting
a study destination. Source: Empirical study
4.2.3 The process of Information search
The vast majority of respondents (94.1%) indicated that they are currently in the process of
information search or are planning to do so. With regard to preferred channels to obtain
information on studying abroad, respondents of the questionnaire were given thirteen
multiple-choice options, which were based on the literature review conducted for this thesis.
Based on the survey questionnaires conducted online, students strongly endorsed Internet
(98.3%) as their source of information. The second most popular channel of information of
Polish students and graduates were websites of specific TEIs abroad (83.9%). The third
choice of information search was communication with other students (73.7%), and similarly
friends and colleagues were seen as a valuable source of information for 55.1 % of
participants. The sixth and seventh most common sources of information were social
networking sites, and educational fairs scoring 30.5% and 21.2% respectively. The remaining
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sources of information which received less than 20% of popularity are not included in the
findings. Figure 17 below represents main sources of information considered by Polish
students and graduates:
Where do you seek information about studying abroad?
rankings of networking
universities sites (e.g.
(e.g. the
Figure 17: Main sources of information considered by Polish students and graduates who want
to study abroad. Please note that data is expressed in percentage. Source: Empirical study
In addition, with regard to availability of information on studying in Denmark, when asked
“If you were looking or you are currently looking for information regarding studying in
Denmark was (is) this information enough for you?” 55 out of 121 of Polish students and
graduates selected the answer “No”. The second most frequent answer given was “I have not
looked for information regarding Denmark/ any information yet” (44 respondents), while the
remaining 22 responders answered “Yes”.
The findings of this empirical research can be supported by the study previously conducted
by the Reputation Institute for the Danish Agency for International Education in 2009
named “Danmarks omdømme som studieland blandt polske studerende” ( Among
722 students which participated in the survey, Internet was the most frequently used source
of information (86.8%). It was followed by other students (64.7%), the international rankings
of TEIs (56.5%), the TEIs websites (53.2%) and education fairs (47.8%).
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4.2.4 Partial conclusion of findings: Discussion of primary sources of information and
push-pull factors which affect need recognition and alternative evaluation
This chapter aims to discuss the push-pull factors and information search as a context in
which international HE decision-making of Polish students and graduates takes place. Push-pull factors
In essence, the participants who took part in the online questionnaire recognized the crucial
importance of English as s global language with nine out of ten of them indicating that the
reason why they would like to study abroad (‘push’ factor) is to “learn a foreign language or
improve it”. This is interesting, since according to the target market analysis, both of the
segments, i.e. the upper secondary school students and tertiary students are characterised
by at least good knowledge of English (GUS, 2011;, 2011). Not surprisingly then,
United Kingdom is one of the three top destination countries for Polish students (UNESCO,
2010). It should be noted, however, that the willingness to learn a foreign language could
also relate to the purpose of learning the local language, if a student choses a non-English
speaking country (Padlee, 2010). The second most important ‘push’ factor, to “learn a new
culture and a way of teaching” indicates the general openness of Polish students and
graduates and a drive for personal development through foreign endeavours. Although
various legislations have been passed in Poland to transform the style of teaching in the
state-owned secondary and tertiary institutions from the authoritative style to the one
encouraging creativity and innovative thinking amongst students, it is still common that
teachers believe that they are more important than students in the Polish education system
(Mońko, 2006). This style of teaching may play an important influence on the way students
perceive the attractiveness of the education at ‘home’. It is interesting that the third most
common ‘push’ factor of Polish students and graduates was their believe that undertaking
studies abroad can enhance their future opportunities on the Polish market, with the
significant share of them indicating that a diploma from abroad will give them a prestige in
Poland in the eyes of the future employers. One of the possible reasons for this phenomenon
is the previously discussed sound unemployment rate amongst Polish youth (Gazeta
Wyborcza, 2011) which may create a highly competitive job market (Korys, Weinar, 2005).
As indicated by Kużmińska-Sołśnia (2009) due to the accelerated pace of technological and
economic changes in Poland taking place currently, “the work placements not only require
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higher education, but above all, different than commonly existing qualifications”26. In addition,
over 3 out of 10 students and graduates indicated that they are ‘pushed’ to study abroad for
a subsequent long-term stay upon graduation. This implies again, that talented Polish youth
is an adequate market for a skilled-migration strategy currently held by the Danish Agency
for International Education.
On the other hand, the fact that most important pull factors for Polish students and
graduates constituted the tuition fees and costs of living, implied that the availability of a
study destination, hence its attractiveness is determined by the financial costs, or in other
words the financial situation of students and graduates (Burns, 2010; Kozak, 2001). The
availability of English-taught programmes in the country formed the third most important
factor underlining the previously mentioned importance of developing English language
skills for Polish students. Finally, a ‘pull’ factor which received a similar amount of votes was
the possibility of finding a job upon graduation, which relates to the ‘push’ factor of
subsequent long-term stay upon graduation, perhaps being its most important condition. It
comes as a surprise, however, that the perceived quality of education in a particular country
does not seem to be a crucial factor in choosing a study destination. Therefore, it seems that
the ‘prestige’ of studying abroad perceived by Polish youth comes from studying abroad
itself, without a considerable regard for the overall reputation of the quality of the education
in a particular study destination. On the other hand, the global rankings of TEIs formed the
fifth most important source of information for the participants of the study, which in this
context may indicate the significance of quality of TEIs themselves, albeit the general,
‘collective’ quality of TEIs in the particular country. Primary sources of information
The survey results revealed that apart from these Polish students and graduates who did not
look for information about the study opportunities in Denmark on a tertiary level (37.3%),
amongst the rest of the respondents who did, 44% is not satisfied with the amount of
information available about possibilities of studying in Denmark. It is fair to state that the
insufficiency of the information comes from the primary sources of information used by the
Polish students and graduates, such as Internet, TEIs websites, other students, friends or
colleagues, global rankings, social networking and education fairs. Unfortunately, not all of
these sources of information can be influenced by the Danish Agency for International
Own translation
Page | 78
Education through the leverage of “Study in Denmark” brand. This is because the Agency has
limited or no control over the level of information disseminated to Polish students and
graduates through sources such as the Danish TEIs websites, the word-of-mouth created by
students, friends and colleagues and Global rankings of the Danish TEIs. In such an instance,
the Agency may have an impact on the remaining information channels including the
Internet, social networking websites and education fairs. In this context, it is important to
discuss underlying psychographic reasons which determined the popularity of these sources
amongst Polish students and graduates.
With regard to Internet, according to the study conducted by MillwardBrown SMG/KRC in
2011, 93% of Polish population aged 15 to 24 years use Internet regularly; with over 70% of
them claiming to use Internet on a daily basis (Krzyżanowski, 2011). Within this category,
social networking sites are growing in popularity, particularly Facebook and Nasza-Klasa
(Internet Standard, 2010). The Polish site Nasza-Klasa has 11 million members, out of which
65% are aged between 15-24, according to the newest data from October, 2011 (,
2011). At the same time, in November 2011, there were over 7 million users of Facebook in
Poland (, with 43% of them aged between 16 to 24 years (Socialbakers,
While discussing the education fairs from a perspective of an information source used by
potential international students in Poland, one name is particularly worth mentioning- the
‘Perpektywy’ fair. It is the largest International Education Fair in Poland organized regularly
every year for the past fifteen years (, 2011). The organizers of the latest fair
reported a record breaking number of exhibitors, guests and events. During the three days of
the fair, almost 50 thousand students, teachers and parents has visited the Warsaw’s Palace
of Culture and Science (ibid, 2011). The fair introduced the representatives of 100 national
universities and 50 foreign universities and special guests such as the representatives of
French and German Ministries of Education (ibid, 2011).
At the same time, this year, the ‘Perspektywy’ organization launched another initiative
driven by the goal of presenting different educational offers within and outside the country
to the upper secondary students who just finished or are about to finish their education and
want to continue studying on a higher (tertiary) level. Beyond the usual location of the
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previous educational fairs in Warsaw, ‘Salon Maturzystów’27 took place in additional
seventeen cities spreaded around Poland28. This initiative was seen as successful and
altogether reported over 210 thousand student visitors and 540 exhibitors (including
representatives of foreign TEIs) (
4.3 Analysis of national-level strategies for increasing inward mobility
of Polish students currently adopted by Denmark and its competitors
on a Polish market
Being presented with various national level strategies for improving the inward
international student mobility as a result of reviewing the available literature on this topic,
the following part discusses these strategies which are currently being employed for
increasing the ISM from Poland to Denmark by the Danish Agency for International
Education. Parallel to this description, an analysis of strategies adapted by competitors is
offered. Examining policies and strategies employed by previously established competitors
(UK, France and Germany) may generate insights into how Denmark could strengthen its
position to attract more students from Poland. According to Chang (2011) these three
governments have been traditionally very active in participating in promotional activities
and marketing research to facilitate their export of educational services on the European
and Global educational markets. Therefore, it will be interesting to analyse their efforts
specifically in relation to the Polish market. Nevertheless, the most significant focus will be
given to the analysis of the strategy of the Agency, since it is the center of this case study.
4.3.1 Marketing research
Out of the three recommendations for marketing research as an important national level
strategy for improving ISM made by Woodfield (2010), the analysis of Polish student profiles
and their decision-making has already been attempted. Therefore, this thesis should now
move on to the last component of the marketing research, namely the competitor analysis.
This task starts with competitor identification (Smith et al., 1992) and follows into
competitor analysis which is done through the assessment of the attractiveness of
‘Salon Maturzystów’ is a direct reference to the ‘matura’ exams which are compulsory at the end of most
upper secondary level education programmes in Poland.
28 Gdansk, Katowice, Gliwice, Poznan, Bialostok, Toruń, Bydoszcz, Lublin, Gorzow, Opole, Olsztyn, Kielce,
Rzeszów, Szczecin, Wrocław, Kraków, Łódź (, 2011)
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alternatives available to the consumers (Fleisher, Bensoussan, 2007; Babin, Harris, 2010).
It is important to note here that although this section directly relates to competitor analysis
(including competitor identification), the process of competitor analysis will continue
throughout many of the sections to follow, although the terminology may not be directly
stated. This is because a further comparison of national-level strategies between the Danish
HE and its competitors adheres to the purpose of competitor analysis which involves
collecting a superior knowledge about the competitors (Babette at al. 2008) Competitor identification: What are the key international players on the Polish
education market?
Competitor identification classifies candidate competitors on the basis of the markets in
which these entities compete against each other (Peteraf and Bergen, 2001; Hitt, Ireland,
Hoskisson, 2010). Baring in mind that the three most popular choices of study destinations
of Polish students for full-degree diploma mobility are the UK, Germany and France
respectively (UNESCO, 2010), it is fair to suggest that these three countries are the main
competitors for Denmark on a Polish education market. This has been supported by the
results of the empirical study, which indicated that out of 121 Polish students and graduates,
the most popular choice of destination is United Kingdom (21.7%), following by Germany
(15%) and France (9.2%). A significant amount of students and graduates, however
indicated that they are still deciding which country to choose (31.7%) whereas 17. 5% of
participants chose the answer “Other”. Figure 18 below illustrates this:
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Figure 18: Results given to the survey question “In which country would you like to study?”
Source: Empirical study Competitor analysis:
Analysis of education offer provided by competitors in
relation to Denmark
Being a continuum of a stage of competitor identification, competitor analysis pinpoints the
strengths and weaknesses of the competitors and highlights own advantages as well as
threats (Baugh, Hamper, 1995; McLouglin, Aaker, 2010). This analysis is done through an
assessment of the attractiveness of alternatives available to consumers which are based on
the consumers’ evaluative criteria (Fleisher, Bensoussan, 2007). Therefore, with regard to
international education, one of the ways of measuring the attractiveness of a particular
country as a study destination is through the evaluative criteria chosen by students.
Evaluative criteria determined by ‘pull’ factors of students
As it has been previously established, in reference to the student decision-making process,
these evaluative criteria involve ‘pull’ factors which are important for students while
selecting a study destination. Therefore, the following competitor analysis offers a
comparison between the identified competitors and Denmark determined by the three ‘pull’
factors perceived as “important” by Polish students and graduates according to the
empirical research. In particular, these are: tuition fees, cost of living and variety of
programmes with English as a language of instruction.
Cost of living
€650 – 800 /per
€800-1000 /per
/per month
€900-1100 /
per month
Source of
Danish Agency for
Education (2010)
DAAD (2011)
Tuition fees
for UE
Up to £900029
Maximum annual tuition chargers for 2012. There are currently no fees for students from EU countries
in Scotland. For the rest of the UK, EU students might take a full loan for tuition fees repayable after their
graduation and only when they become employed (British Council, 2011)
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Source of
Variety of
in English on
a tertiary
Source of
Over 500
Almost 600
Over 900
Over 80 000
Figure 19: Comparison of education offers provided by Danish HE and its competitors. Please
note: the following data refers to public TEIs.
4.3.2 Central Agencies
Apart from attempting a market research, another way of improving the inward
international student mobility to the foreign study destination is through using Central
Agencies. As noted by Woodfield (2010) and Wachter (2008) national agencies responsible
for promoting international education are the best tool for disseminating information to the
potential international students and thus, for increasing visibility and awareness of the
national HE sectors. As the Danish Agency for International Education has already been
introduced and described at the beginning of this thesis, the following will present a brief
description of specialized organizations established by the competitors.
In France, the central agency EduFrance was created in 1998 as a part of the national
marketing campaign started by the French government (ACA, 2005) with the aim to
“increase the country's appeal as a higher education provider” (Chiche-Portiche, 2007). In
particular, the agency has taken the role in developing marketing materials and campaigns in
English (a role previously performed by variety of agencies) and aimed to reach beyond the
French-speaking countries in Africa and Middle East which at that time were France’s most
substantial source of international students (Obst, 2008). The agency has changed its name
to CampusFrance in 2007 and is currently under the supervision of the Ministries of Foreign
Affairs, Education, and Higher Education and Research (Obst, 2008).
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With regard to the United Kingdom, a central agency for promoting Great Britian’s30 higher
education, British Council (BC) was established in 1939 and is sponsored by the British
government (Cheung and Cheng, 2009). Under the legislation of UK Prime Minister’s
Initiative from 1998, British Council promotes growth in cultural, educational, social and
other relations between the UK and other countries (Kemp and Rogers, 2006). It continues
to receive funding from the UK government to manage its Education UK brand and deliver
promotional activities to its target audiences (ibid, 2006, Cheung and Cheng, 2009).
In case of Germany, the German national agency for international education, DAAD31, also
known as the German Academic Exchange Service was established in 192532 (DFG, 2007).
Similarly to the central agencies of UK, France or Denmark as described before, DAAD aims
internationalization of universities (Lasanowski, et al. 2009). DAAD is privately and
government-funded, self-governing national agency of the institutions of organization of
higher education institutions in Germany (DFG, 2007).
4.3.3 National education brands
Another national-level strategy which has been seen as effective in actively pursuing
overseas customers is a national education brand (Waters, 2006). Amongst the three
competitors, UK is the only country in which a central agency has decided to develop its own
education brand (Wachter, 2008; ACA, 2009). The ‘EducationUK’ brand is managed by
British Council and has been created under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Initative in
2006 (British Council, 2011d). While treating a national education brand as a product brand
(Balmer and Grewy, 2003; Wang and Pizam, 2011) the brand analysis is needed to research
the opinions of the brand’s customer groups, among other things (Schultz et al., 2009). Since
it is a complex task, the following section solely discusses the ‘Study in Denmark’ brand,
leaving the analysis of ‘EducationUK’ in relation to the Polish education market in the hands
of the future investigation.
The area of Great Britain excludes Northern Ireland, which belongs to the United Kingdom. Therefore,
promotional efforts held by British Council do not include promoting HEIs located in Northern Ireland.
31 DAAD Stands for “Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst e.V." [eng. German Academic Exchange
Service] (DAAD, 2009)
32 The organisation was founded on 1rst of January 1925 but closed down in 1945 and was re-established
again in 1950 (DFG, 2007).
Page | 84 The Danish national education brand: “Study in Denmark”
As a consequence of a study conducted by Kemp and Rogers on behalf of Danish Agency for
International Education (then known as CIRIUS) in 2006, the Agency was faced with the
following recommendation:
“A Danish national education brand is essential if Denmark is to more clearly differentiate its
education provision from its main competitor countries. “(Kemp and Rogers, 2006:7)
When in 2008, the Agency presented its new education brand “Study in Denmark”,
developed in collaboration with design agency e-Types (Branding Denmark, 2011), Danish
national education brand was aimed to reflect the characteristics of the Danish model of
education, such as “problem orientation, autonomy, active participation, informal learning,
innovation, teamwork, dialogue etc.”33 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, n.d.). In other
words, this model aims to encourage students to actively participate in the lectures and
critically respond both to the syllabus and the lecturer. This approach is expressed
indirectly through promotional materials of ‘Study in Denmark’ and directly through a
brand slogan including these three words: Think, Play, Participate (Branding Denmark,
2011). Research suggests that the Scandinavian management model and educational culture
“constitute the strongest sides to Danish institutions of higher education and can
advantageously be used as a starting point for the national effort of marketing Denmark as an
attractive education country” (FBE, 2008, Kemp and Rogers, 2006).
While the national education brand aims to provide the Danish higher education institutions
“with a common platform”, it also gives them the possibility to promote their own individual
brands (Study in Denmark, 2011c). Analysis of the brand elements of “Study in Denmark”
Drawing from the definition of a brand, elements of the brand may commonly include a
brand logo, brand slogan, brand name or packaging (Buttle and Westoby, 2006; Kotler,
Pfoertsch, Michi, 2006). The following discussion will begin with analyzing the ‘Study in
Denmark’ name, and will consequently move on to discussing its name and slogan.
Own translation
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The ‘Study in Denmark’ brand name meets almost all recommendations for a successful
name: it is simple, meaningful, compatible with the product or service and legally
protectable (Chernatony et al., 2010). This brand name is also distinctive with regard to its
competitors (which is the last element of a ‘successful brand name’, ibid, 2010) bearing in
mind that it only competes with the ‘EducationUK’ brand across the three competitors on a
Polish education market. In addition, ‘Study in Denmark’ carries the characteristics of a
descriptive brand name, which refers to the product as a whole in a direct manner and may
represent the characteristics, function or composition of a product or a service (Riezebos et
al., 2003).
Brand logo is another base element of a brand. The ‘Study in Denmark’ logo is connected to
the brand name through its typographic type, i.e. the logo represents a brand name which is
given a stylized font and a colour scheme (Buttle and Westoby 2006). The Danish Agency for
International Education uses a consistent way of expressing the brand name and logo of
‘Study in Denmark’. This is proven by the fact that it uses the same graphic, layout and type
style across all of its communication materials34. The only variation in the brand logo design
involves two different backgrounds and colours in which a brand name is typed (see
graphics below).
Graphic 1: Study in Denmark logo with a while background
Graphic 2: Study in Denmark logo with a black background
This include ‘Study in Denmark’ website, print media and other artifacts
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According to Branding Denmark, the motive behind the brand design was to “express the
seriousness and quality, while appealing to the target audience of young international
students35” (Branding Denmark, 2011).
With regard to the third element of a brand, brand slogan aims to express the brand’s
characteristic position or goal to be achieved (ibid, 2011). The ‘Study in Denmark’ brand
slogan ‘Think, Play, Participate’ describes the innovative Danish teaching approach
(, as explained on a Study in Denmark website:
“Danish higher education is all about you: your ideas and your aspirations. You will be
encouraged to think for yourself, experiment with new knowledge and apply your mind to solve
real problems. Study in Denmark - to fulfill your potential, do well in education and succeed in
The following key words can be used to further explain the meaning of the brand pay-off:
Problem-oriented learning
Modern and up-to-date
High quality
Informal environment
Quality of life
Active participation
Social responsibility
Personal and social safety
Figure 20: Explanation of ‘Study in Denmark’ brand slogan through descriptive key words.
Source: own figure based on Study in Denmark (2011c).
Drawing from Keller’s (2003) definition of a brand slogan, THINK, PLAY, PARTICIPATE is
communicating a persuasive information about the ‘Study in Denmark’ brand, as opposed to
being descriptive. Moreover, as described in the theoretical part of this thesis, with respect
to the international brands, it is important that brand slogans are adapted to the cultural
characteristics of a target market to which a brand is supposed to be introduced and
Own translation
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maintained (Hall, 1990; Hollensen, 2009; Blakeman, 2011). During the empirical research
conducted for this thesis, 118 of Polish students and graduates expressed their opinions
about the applicability of the brand slogan in the Polish education market. When asked “Do
you believe that the slogan of 'Study in Denmark' brand: "Think, play, participate" is an
appropriate slogan to encourage people your age to study in Denmark?”, 59 of participants
answered “Yes”, while 21 answered “No” and the remaining 38 selected “I don’t know”.
Consequently, in order to gain better insights to the respondents’ answers and perhaps even
more importantly, understand why some of them answered “No” or “I don’t know”, during a
semi-structured interview, 4 participants who previously took part in the survey
questionnaire were asked to provide their explanation.
The first respondent answered “No”, explaining her choice in the following way:
“This slogan does not stand out. It does not seem ‘catchy’ to me. If they (Danish Agency for
International Education) want to encourage people to study in Denmark, I believe it should use
a more creative slogan.” (Sandra, 22 years old, studies at TEIs, Szczecin)
Another explanation was provided by a student who answered “I don’t know” giving a
following feedback:
“I am not saying that this slogan could not be improved, but I like the fact that it calls for an
‘active’ participation and fun. In Poland, there are student societies which are trying to bring
up the ‘fun’ aspect of studying, but institutions and governmental initiatives are not supporting
them, which I think is a shame.” (Dagmara, 23 years old, studies at TEIs, Szczecin)
Finally, the slogan received a completely positive comment provided by one of the students
who answered “Yes” to the interview question and elaborated on this decision in a following
“I really like this slogan, since I get an impression that studies in Denmark are practical. This
approach is completely new to me, since studies in Poland are very theoretical. I also like that
there is an element of fun in the slogan expressed by the word “play”.” (Michal, 18 years old,
General Upper Secondary School graduate, Szczecin)
The last respondent also elaborated on the word “play”. He felt that it evokes negative
connotations with regard to higher education, thus answering “No” to the survey question.
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He explained it in the following way:
“I think this approach to studying is too ‘loose’ and implies that studying in Denmark is equal to
having fun. It is not serious enough for a university level. Maybe if the word ‘play’ was changed
into ‘enjoy’ it would sound better.” (Piotr, 24 years old, studies at TEI, Szczecin)
According to these answers, the brand pay-offs communicated through the “Study in
Denmark” slogan are not completely understood by Polish students. In particular, the ‘play’
element evokes mixed reactions, and a scope of its initial value propositions, such as
creativity, innovation, open-mindedness, freedom, informal environment etc., seemed to give
a way to the word ‘fun’. The semi-structured design of interviews allowed bringing up a
follow-up question to the two students who understood ‘play’ as ‘fun’. The question sounded:
“What exactly do you mean by ‘fun’ in this context?”. The first student has given the following
“It means an extensive student life, that you can go out and have some beers with other
students, take part in range of activities, and meet other people from different cultures.”
(Michal, 18)
The second person seemed to adhere with this view, claiming that “fun” means
“A relaxed attitude to studying, such as it is not only about writing assignments and reading
books, but also socializing with other students” (Piotr, 24) Analysis of Brand equity of ‘Study in Denmark’: brand awareness and brand image
The effectiveness of the organisation’s communication impacts the brand knowledge of
consumers, which can be measured through brand awareness and brand image (van Riel et
al, 2007; Keller, 1996). These two components of brand equity and are explained below with
regard to the Danish national education brand.
According to the definition, brand awareness “is the consumer’s ability to identify a brand
under different conditions” (Keller, 2003:51) and may take a form of a brand recognition or
brand recall (Radder, 2008). Since brand recognition is created by “increasing the familiarity
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of the brand through repetitive exposure” (Van Gelder, 2005: 149), due to a poor brand
recognition of ‘Study in Demark’ amongst Polish students and graduates, the brand exposure
seems to be insufficient on a Polish education market. In particular, when asked “Do you
know an organization called "Study in Denmark?”, only 20 out of 121 respondents of the
quantitative survey gave a positive answer. At the same time, brand recall occurs due to
“strong associations with the appropriate product category or other relevant purchase or
consumption cues” (Keller, Aperia, Georgson, 2008). In relation to this, Internet is a most
frequently used source of information for Polish students and graduates seeking for
education abroad. However, only 24 respondents could recall the name of the ‘Study in
Denmark’ website when being asked the following question: “Do you know the website, which represents the Danish higher educational brand?”. Here, a
given ‘clue’ was the information about organization and its website. However, it should be
noted that out of the 121 survey respondents, 76 have already chosen the study destination
prior to the survey36, which may explain the low brand awareness of ‘Study in Denmark’
among the researched group. In particular, lack of repetitive exposure to the brand (Van
Gelder, 2005) could affect the memory of the participants. Moreover, the participants may
not have been exposed to the brand at all if they were not interested in studying in Denmark
from the very beginning of a consumer-decision making process.
The second element of brand equity, brand image is the “representation of the brand in the
mind of the consumer” (de Mooij, 2009:277). In a situation in which brand-related
communications have a direct impact on the brand image (van Reil and Fomburn, 2007),
online communication through the Internet, which is the primary information source for the
Polish students and graduates has a crucial influence on their perception of the brand image
of “Study in Denmark”. Findings of the survey questionnaire revealed that among Polish
students and graduates, who had previously indicated their brand awareness based on
whether or not they are familiar with the “Study in Denmark” website , i.e. 24 out of 121
participants, the “Study in Denmark” website was ranked from average to good, with 11 and
13 participants providing these opinions respectively. Consequently, during the in-depth
interviews respondents were asked the following question: “If you know ‘Study in Denmark’
website, please explain your opinion of it. If you don’t know the website, please access it and
explain your answer.” The first two students who provided their feedback, ranked “Study in
Denmark” website as “average” providing the following explanations:
The majority of participants selected UK (26), France (11), Germany (18) and Other (21). Rest of the
survey participants selected ‘Denmark’ (6) or ‘I am considering which country to choose’ (38)
Page | 90
“The website is not inviting, it is just black and white. It reminds me of a page from a
newspaper. It does not feel practical; there are no clear requirements for admission on a
website, such as what level of English is needed to apply. There should also be more information
about study programmes.” (Sandra, 22)
“The website has a newspaper look. It feels very formal. The fond remands me of a New York
Times Magazine.” (Dagmara, 23)
This feedback is interesting, since interviews were conducted separately and respondents
did not have insights to each other’s answers. However, despite an average rating of the
website attractiveness and functionality, it seems that they both noticed that the motive
behind the brand design of “Study in Denmark” was to “express the seriousness and quality”
(Branding Denmark, 2011).
The remaining two interviewees, however, both agreed that the website should be ranked as
good. Nevertheless, some negative comments have been made. Here are their explanations:
„I like the website. It shows different aspects of living in Denmark, and shows that Denmark has
an individual approach to studying. However, it looks like there is not much activity on it, seems
like it there is not enough work done to make it vibrant. I also have an impression that it is
focused on the students who are already in Denmark, instead of the ones that are considering
studying in Denmark.” (Piotr, 24)
“This website provides a lot of information, especially information about lifestyle in Denmark,
about Danish people. Denmark is not well known in Poland. There was no links in the
categories of different studies –or clear enough at least.” (Michal, 18)
4.3.4 Central Websites
As recommended by Wachter (2008) and ACA (2009) a crucial element of a national
campaign aiming to attract international students should be an online presence. In this
context, a central website is seen as “the key instrument for guiding potential international
students to the information they seek in order to make their destination decision and later
enroll” (Wachter, 2008:26). With regard to Denmark and its competitors, the central
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websites established to attract international students (such as the Polish students and
graduates) vary in their form and scope. In particular, the central websites of Denmark and
the United Kingdom which promote their national HE systems and provide information to
potential international students utilize their national education brands. The central website
of Denmark represents its ‘Study in Denmark’ brand through and
the UK’s ‘EducationUK’ is represented by This is different from the
approach adapted by the German and French central agencies, which promote their HE
systems directly through their agencies websites, i.e. (Germany) and (France), mainly because they have not created their national
education brands.
With regard to recommendations concerning the website design given by numerous
researchers (ACA, 2009; ACA, 2005; Wachter, 2008; Kim, 2008), the four websites in
question vary in the extent to which they address these. Before moving on to the analysis of
competitior’s central websites with respect to these recommendations, a description of
‘Study in Denmark’ website is given a special focus. ‘Study in Denmark’ website
Graphically, the website design of ‘Study in Denmark’ is inspired by a magazine-look and
kept in black, white and red to make room for large, illustrative images37 (Branding
Denmark, 2011). Appendix 5 illustrates the main page of the ‘Study in Denmark’ website.
The aim of the website is “to offer international students information about Danish higher
education and life as a student in Denmark” ( With regard to Polish
market, data provided below has been derived from Google Analytics and represents the
average monthly traffic to the ‘Study in Denmark’ website from the ten most popular
geographical locations in Poland categorized by cities.
Own translation
Page | 92
Figure 21: Average monthly traffic from the ten most popular locations in Poland. Source:
Danish Agency for International Education (2011) Estimation was done based on the period
between February 21st and September the 3rd, 2011. Analysis of competitor’s websites in relation to ‘Study in Denmark’
As a point of departure of the analysis, recommendations of various authors are used
regarding the design of a central website (ACA, 2009, ACA, 2005; Wachter, 2008; Kim, 2008).
Figure 21 below underlines these recommendations and establishes which of them have
been meet by the competitors and the Danish Agency for International Education. The main
pages of the competitors’ websites, which illustrate some of the features they offer, are
illustrated by Appendix 5.
database of
A section about
the country and
its HE system
Page | 93
work etc.
Links to the
websites of
institutions and
their offers
Relevant pages
in Polish
service for
foreign students
Figure 22: Functions of the competitior’s websites and the Danish website ‘Study in Denmark’.
Source: own figure based on appendix 5.
As evident from this data, all of the countries in question adhere to the first four
recommendations for a successful design of a central website. At the same time, the
competitor countries offer country-specific language variations, including websites in Polish
language- a feature which is not offered by the ‘Study in Denmark’ website. According to
Wachter (2008) such a function shows the advancement in promotion of national education
online. In addition, as none of the national agencies introduced online application services
for foreign students, introducing such a feature could deliver a competitive advantage to the
Danish agency in Poland, amongst other targeted countries.
Page | 94 Accessibility of the websites
As previously indicated, accessibility of websites is crucial and more important than its content
in drawing traffic to a website (Davis and Iwanow, 2009). In this context, the relevant keywords
typed by Polish students and graduates in a given web browser41 would retrieve a certain
information about the availability of the competitors’ websites and the website representing the
‘Study in Denmark’ brand. The relevant keywords are provided below and include language
variables that Polish students and graduates may use when they look for education abroad. This
analysis has been attempted due to the Brenn-White’s (2010) suggestion that marketers need
to be sensitive to language variables of the keywords that students use when they look for
education abroad. In particular, Google AdWords has been employed to provide statistical
information about the search volumes for given keywords searched from Poland (Prince,
2010; Bailyn, Bailyn, 2011; Enge et al., 2010). The two keyword variables considered are
“study in…” and “studies in…” respectively corresponding to “studiuj w…” and “studia w…” in
the Polish language.
Most likely Google search engine (refer to literature review)
Page | 95
Search location and
country search
Average number of
searchers per
Location: Poland
Country search:
Country search:
United Kingdom
Country search:
Country search:
„Studia w Danii”
„Studiuj w Danii”
„Studies in
„Study in Denmark”
„Studia w UK”
„Studiuj w UK”
„Studies in the UK”
„Study in UK”
„Studia w
„Studiuj w
„Studies in
„Study in Germany”
„Studia we Francji”
„Studiuj we Francji”
„Studies in France”
„Study in France”
Figure 23: Results received from given keyword searches using Google Adwords.
This estimate is based on average throughout the last 12 months
No available data
Page | 96
It becomes clear that Polish audience feel more confident to seek information about
studying abroad in the previously mentioned countries in the Polish language. This once
again stresses the importance of developing a Polish-language version of the ‘Study in
Denmark’ website along with introducing an improved search engine optimization to match
the most popular keywords used by the potential international students from Poland.
4.3.5 Permanent offices
Moreover, with regard to information offices, which also serve as support structures for
events or media campaigns, or other promotional arrangements (Wachter, 2008), the
national education offers of all three competitors are represented by their permanent offices
in Poland. In particular, all of the central agencies, i.e. German DAAD, French CampusFrance
and UK British Council have set up their permanent presence in the capital of Poland,
Warszawa44. At the same time, the Danish Agency for International Education has not yet
invested in such a platform to increase its recruitment of Polish students and graduates.
4.3.6 Education fairs
The establishment or participation in higher education fairs is seen as another element of a
successful campaign promoting national education abroad (ACA, 2009; Wachter, 2008),
which create “a forum for the direct encounter with potential students (and their parents)”
(Wachter, 2008:25). Considered as the most popular and successful education fair in Poland,
the Perspektywy fair, is organized by the non-profit organization and is open to all paying
participants (Wachter, 2008; Perpektywy, 2011). Figure 22 below represents the frequency
of attendance of the fair in Warsaw by the competitors and the Danish Agency for
International Education represented by the ‘Study in Denmark’ brand.
Germany (DAAD)
UK (British Council/
Information based on, and
Page | 97
Denmark (Danish
Agency for
Education/Study in
Figure 22: Attendance of the Danish Agency for International Education and its’ competitors at
the ‘Perspektywy’ Education fairs in Poland during the years 2008-2011. Source: (2011)
It is important to note that during the Perspektywy fair in 2010, Denmark was profoundly
promoted, which has been noticed by the organizers of the event. According to, in 2010 “the fair intensively promoted Denmark - at a specially designated
area, under the banner of Study in Denmark, which presented its educational offer of as many
as 6 Danish universities45” (, 2010). An illustration of it is presented by
appendix 6. At the same time, however, the agency did not make an appearance at the latest
educational fair in 2011. In the context of the lack of its presence, the Perspektywy fair
introduced the representatives of 50 foreign universities and special guests such as the
representatives of French and German Ministries of Education (Perspektwy, 2011).
In addition, as suggested by the empirical part of this thesis, another initiative organised in
2011 by ‘Perspektywy’, was ‘Salon Maturzystow’ addressed specifically to the upper
secondary students who just finished or are about to finish their education and want to
continue studying on a tertiary level, offer another opportunity for the promotion of
national HE systems. A number of representatives from foreign agencies responsible for
international education, such as German DAAD and French CampusFrance have recognized
the potential of such a fair and made their appearance in numerous cities in which the fair
was organized.
4.3.7 Media campaigns
The mass media campaigns were also found to be an effective recruiting method to
national international student recruitment (Mazzarol, 1998; Dunnet, 2000; Wachter,
2008). However, much of the media campaigns adapted by the competitors as well as the
Own translation
Page | 98
Danish Agency for International Education is limited to print media and disregards
television or radio as the cost-efficient communication platforms (Woodfield, 2009, Wachter,
2008). Such a print media include mainly brochures which are widely distributed to
students by all four countries in question ( ). It is not uncommon that brochures are seen as
an effective promotional tool, when they handed out at the educational fairs, such as the
‘Perspektywy fair’ (, 2011). All of the competitiors and Denmark have
developed language-specific brochures which fit the Polish market and are available at the
‘Perspektywy’ fair every year (ibid, 2011). An illustration of a ‘Study in Denmark’ brochure
in Polish can be found in appendix 7.
The purpose of this thesis was to improve the current strategy of Danish Agency of
International Education, which uses its national education brand for promotion, on a Polish
education market. Subsequently, an improved strategy is hoped to lead to an increase in fulldegree mobility of Polish students to the Danish HEIs. This conclusion aims at answering the
main research questions of this thesis:
RQ1: What factors weigh most predominantly in the Polish students’ decisions to study
abroad and select a study destination?
As previously established, research of international students decision-making is crucially
internationalisation towards a specific target market. Starting from the ‘push’ factors, the
most dominant motivations which ‘push’ Polish students and graduates to study abroad
include a need to learn a foreign language or improve it and to learn a new culture and a new
way of teaching. By looking at the first motivational factor, it becomes clear that the UK has a
significant competitive advantage as a English-speaking country offering over 80 thousand
programmes in English on a tertiary level through a state-owned institutions alone.
Unfortunately, is this category, Danish TEIs offer a least amount of programmes in English
amongst its competitors. At the same time, the second motivational factor points out that
Polish students are open for experiencing a new style of teaching. Although, the author of
this thesis could not establish which style would they prefer the most, one can argue that
since the brand slogan ‘Think, Play, Participate’ was attractive to over half of the survey
Page | 99
respondents, a Scandinavian model of teaching represented by it may attract a considerable
number of students in Poland. On the other hand, the meaning of the ‘play’ element of a
brand slogan has not been fully understood by the target audience, which may have had an
impact on the results. A further analysis of the brand slogan is offered in another section.
With regard to ‘pull’ factors, Polish students and graduates are concerned with three
primary factors while choosing a study destination: tuition fees, costs of living and variety of
programmes in English. With regard to the first factor, Denmark, Germany and France are
comparable in their offer, since all of their public institutions are tuition free for EU
nationals, such as Polish. At the same time, due to the empirical findings it may be predicted
that the enrolment of Polish students and graduates at the TEI’s in the United Kingdom, will
decrease within time, as its high fees (Up to £9000/per annum) introduced in 2010 may
gradually discourage cost-conscious students from Poland. In this context, the costs of living
in the UK are also the highest amongst the four countries in question. In fact, according to
the Central Websites of both agencies, Denmark and Germany are comparable in the cost of
living, with France and the UK being the most expensive. At the same time, Polish students
which are considering to study in the UK may deduct some of the expenses associated with it
through working part-time. Their preference for programmes offered in English may reflect
that they are most proficient in the English language and therefore cannot undertake a parttime job in a non-English speaking country, such as Germany, Denmark or France.
RQ2: Where do Polish students seek information about studying abroad?
Internet was found as the most important channel of information of Polish students seeking
for foreign education. This information is important for the Danish Agency for International
Education which pays a great focus to its ‘Study in Denmark’ website. However, the research
conducted to assess its availability to the Polish audience revealed that the website cannot
be easily found by a person located in Poland, unless such a person types in the website
address of ‘Study in Denmark’ on his/her own. Findings of the research underlined the
language-specific barriers, which have not been previously embraced by the organisation. In
particular, when the keywords ‘study in..’ and a ‘studia w..’ (translated to Polish) were typed
in Google AdWords, the former search retrieved approximately 170 searches per month,
whereas the latter retrieved approximately a 1000. The same pattern has been noted with
regard to the competitiors. This problem relates to another characteristic of the central
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website of ‘Study in Denmark’, namely a lack of a possibility to switch to the Polish languagea feature which is offered by its competitiors.
RQ3: What is the brand awareness of 'Study in Denmark' in Poland amongst the target
Brand awareness of ‘Study in Denmark’ can be discussed with regard to brand recognition
and brand recall .Unfortunately, brand recognition of ‘Study in Denmark’ is very weak, since
only 20 out of 121 respondents were able to identify the brand. Similarly, when given a
certain ‘clue’ with regard to the ‘Study in Denmark’ website, only 24 could recall the name of
the brand. Such a low awareness may be a result of a complex reasons, however if we accept
that the Internet is the most important source of information for Polish students and
graduates we might come to a conclusion that the website is limited in its availability to the
target audience. This issue relates specifically to the need of a search engine optimization in
order to increase the website’s applicability to the language-specific approach of the Polish
students and graduates. In addition, the Agency should consider attending the fourthcoming
‘Salon Maturzystow’ education fair in order to not lose its target market to its competition.
RQ4: To what extend is the brand slogan applicable to the target market?
The applicability of the brand slogan ‘Think, Play, Participate’ is generally accepted by the
Polish students and graduates, with exactly half of them believing that it may encourage
people their age to study in Denmark. Importantly, 38 out of 118 Polish students were not
sure about the slogan. Here, the semi-structured interviews provided to be useful to receive
a clearer picture of what are the positive and negative sides of the selected slogan. Two of
the participants believed that the positive aspect of such a brand slogan is its practicality,
participation and fun. While the word ‘fun’ appeared in a positive context, the other two
students believed that the word ‘play’ is not serious enough for a slogan which refers to
higher education, and therefore suggested that they do not like how ‘play’ relates to ‘fun’.
Above all, it is important that the Danish Agency for International Education adapts its
brand slogan to the cultural characteristics of Polish education market, with a specific focus
given to the word ‘play’.
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This topic lacks the more expanded research of the internationalization of higher education
and strategies for international student recruitment. In addition, the limited amount of
academic research has led the researcher to develop a model which aimed to explain the
decision-making process of Polish students. However, the further investigation of the
decision-making process with regard to international education as well as the research of
new trends in strategies for international student recruitment which are certainly needed in
this area, would be relevant and interesting to examine.
Moreover, the conclusions of the strategies of the Danish Agency for International Education
and its competitiors on a polish market were referred to four countries and limited to a
relatively small group of participants who took part in the online survey. Thus, the intentions
of this research were not to generalize the findings, but instead to understand the needs and
wants of the target audience, and assess how the Danish Agency for Internationalisation can
meet them by improving its current strategy.
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Appendix 1: Brief history of Higher Education in Poland
Historically, Poland has often been a country in turmoil which inevitably affected a
considerable part of the history of its higher education. The Polish academic traditions reach
back to 14th Century, when Jagiellonian University was established in Cracow in 1364 as a
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first Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Poland and one of the first in Central Europe
(Eurydice, 2010). Subsequently, Polish universities were opened in Vilnius (1578), Lvov
(1661) and in Warsaw in 1816 (ibid, 2010). In the age of enlightenment in Europe in 18 th
Century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Commission of National Education (Komisja
Edukacji Narodowej) was established in 1773 and as it have been argued, was a first
education authority (equivalent to Ministry of Education today) in Europe (Eurydice, 2010).
The Commission believed that “education was not just a matter of the citizens, but more
importantly a matter of the state”46 (Eurydice, 2010:17).
Not much later, in the late 18th Century, the reforms of Commission of National Education
and its plans for development of Polish education have been dashed by three countries
which have taken over Polish territory: Russia, Prussia and Austria, and successfully
jeopardized its independence for 123 years (Eurydice, 2010).
Another important phase which shaped the development higher education in Poland was
the post-war period after the Second World War. While before the 2nd World War there had
been 6 universities in Poland (in Krakow, Vilnius, Lvov, Warsaw, Poznan, Lublin) and 3
technical universities (in Warsaw and Lvov and the technical university of Mining and
Matallurgy in Krakow) (Eurydice, 2010), after the war the amount of HEIs has grown
substantially; in 1950 there were 83 higher institutions in Poland (ibid, 2010). However,
although the number of HEI significantly increased after the Second World War, Polish
higher education was functioning under the communist education system with an
ideological content in curriculum affecting the autonomy of every educational establishment
in Poland (Poland, 2011).The state had a direct interference in the determination of the
number of students, faculties and research, and content of the curriculum, while universities
themselves were not allowed to have any self-governmental bodies (Thieme 2009).
According to former minister of National education in years 1997-2000, Mirosław Handke,
during Communist area, only 10 percent of Polish adults had a university degree (Poland,
2011), and there was about 400,000 students enrolled at higher education institutions
(Poland, 2011). Back then, there was a widespread belief that higher education is only for
the privileged (ibid, 2011).
With the transformation of the political system there has been a fundamental change in the
system of higher education. The Act of 12th of September 1990 about the higher education in
Own translation
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Poland introduced the principle of institutional autonomy, independence from the
government, and academic freedom and the principles of higher education management
through indirect mechanisms (competitive financing system), there has been the
development of internal self-government (The Council of Higher Education) (Eurydice,
2010). The Act created the possibility of charging school fees for certain types of higher
education, which led to the development of part-time courses in public schools. The Act also
introduced the possibility of creating non-Sate, private schools (Eurydice 2008).
From the early 90s wage premium for held education strongly increased (Rutkowski, 1997).
This increase has become a clear signal that it pays to be educated. Young people have
reacted to this demand on the market and began to massively enroll at tertiary education
institutions around the country (Sztanderska, Wojciechowski, 2008).
In 1999, Polish government has decided to introduce structural changes to the primary and
secondary education system. As explained by Handke, the “8-year lower secondary school
education was insufficient. It was trying to cram all the information of our modern world in
those 8 years” (Poland, 2011). The result was that the majority of young Poles would simply
abandon their studies after completing the 8th year, causing so-called the Grade-Eight
Syndrome. Therefore, the structural changes introduced in 1999 added an extra year of
lower secondary school, to make education “more attractive, by making it more adaptable to
meet the unique talents of each child” according to under-secretaty of state in years 20072009, Zbigniew Marciniak (Poland, 2011).
Appendix 2: Polish and Danish Educational Structures
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Danish Educational Structure (Danish Agency for International Education, 2011).
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Polish Educational Structure. Based on data provided by GUS (2011) and PAZ (2011)
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Appendix 3: Share of International Polish students in Danish HE in years 2000-2008.
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Appendix 4: Total number of international full-degree students from Poland enrolled at
Danish HEIs in years 2000-2008
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Appendix 5: Home pages of the Central Websites of Denmark, UK, Germany and France
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Appendix 6: ‘Study in Denmark’ booth at the ‘Perspektywy’ fair in 2010 in Warsaw
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Appendix 7: ‘Study in Denmark’ brochure in Polish language
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Appendix 8: Thesis survey questionnaire with an introduction
I am studying MA in Corporate Communication at Aarhus School of Business in Denmark
and I am writing to you to find out if you are currently considering studying abroad. Your
opinion is necessary for me to complete my Master’s thesis, as I need to establish what are
your motivational factors in firstly deciding to pursue your studies abroad and secondly in
consideration of study destination(s). This information will help me to find out how Danish
educational offer can better fulfill these criteria.
The survey is designed purely for non-commercial purposes, it includes 18 closed-ended
questions in Polish and takes around 6 minutes. It is also anonymous.
The title of my Master’s thesis is: „Branding Higher Education: How to promote Denmark as
an attractive study destination for Polish students and increase student recruitment.” If you
would like to get to know about the survey results, please write back to me.
Survey link:
Your input is greatly appreciated!
Marta Krol
Thesis survey questionnaire
1) Gender?
( ) Female
( ) Male
2) Age?
( ) 15-18 years
( ) 19-20 years
( ) More than 20 years
( ) Less than 15 years
3) Which type of institution are you currently enrolled to?
( ) Upper Secondary School (General, Specialized, Technical)
( ) Higher Education Institution
( ) I have graduated and I am not enrolled to any institution at the moment
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4) How many years do you have left until finishing your current education?
( ) 1 year
( ) 2 years
( ) 3 years
( ) more than 3 years
( ) zero
5) In which city do you currently study?
( ) Szczecin
( ) Warszawa
( ) Poznan
( ) Katowice
( ) Krakow
( ) Lodz
( ) Lublin
( ) Inne
6) Are you considering studying abroad?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) I do not know
7) In which country would you like to study?
( ) United Kingdom
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( ) France
( ) Germany
( ) Denmark
( ) Other
( ) At the moment, I am considering which country to choose
8) What are the reasons which make you consider studying abroad? (tick all that
[ ] I want to learn a foreign language or improve it
[ ] I want to learn a new culture and way of teaching
[ ] I would find it hard to get accepted to a very good educational institution in Poland
[ ] In Poland, there is a lack of programmes which would interest me
[ ] A diploma from abroad will give me a certain amount of prestige in Poland
[ ] I would like to enhance my future opportunities on a Polish market
[ ] My parents and friends are convicing me to study abroad
[ ] After I will graduate, I want to continue living in the country of my study destination
[ ] Other reason(s)
9) When considering a study destination, how important are these criteria for you on
scale from 1 to 5, if 1 means 'unimportant', 2 means 'of little importance', 3 means
'moderately important', 4 means 'important' and 5 means 'very important'?
2 (little
3 (moderately
5 (very
(unimportant) importance) important) (important) important)
Geographic proximity
Availability of information
about tertiary education of a
host country in Poland
Variety of programmes with
English as a language of
Tutition fees
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Costs of living
Availability of a part-time work
Social links with a host country
(e.g. family or friends
studying/living there)
Safety of a host country
Economic and political
conditions in a host country
Student environment, lifestyle,
Geographical climate
Possibility of learning or
improving a foreign language
Possibility of finding a job
upon graduation in a host
Academic quality of education
in a host country
Ratings of a host country's
TEIs in the Global rankings of
10) Are you currently looking or intend to look for information concerning studies
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) I don't know
11) Where are you looking or would look for information about studies abroad?
[ ] Internet
[ ] Other students
[ ] The Global rankings of universities
[ ] Websites of Institutions
[ ] Friends, colleagues
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[ ] Print media
[ ] TV advertisements
[ ] Recruitment agencies
[ ] Educational fairs
[ ] Presentations at my school
[ ] Teachers
[ ] Parents/familly
[ ] Social networking sites, e.g. Facebook, Nasza Klasa, LinkedIn
[ ] None of the above
12) If you were looking for you are currently looking for information regarding
studying in Denmark was (is) this information enough for you?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) I was (am) not looking for information concerning Denmark or I was not looking for any
information yet
13) Do you know an organization called "Study in Denmark"?
( ) yes
( ) no
14) Do you know the website, which represents the Danish
higher educational brand?
( ) Yes
( ) No
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15) If you know the website ( how would you rate its
attractiveness and usefulness?
( ) very poor
( ) poor
( ) average
( ) good
( ) very good
( ) I do not know it
16) Do you believe that the slogan of 'Study in Denmark' brand : "Think, play,
participate" is a an appropriate slogan to encourage people your age to study in
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) I do not know
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