Higher education (HE) has become an increasingly competitive sector. The number of countries that are actively involved in international student recruitment has grown considerably. Given the growing international competition between countries for international students, it has become increasingly important to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence international students’ decision on study destination. This is especially true for HE institutions in countries including Sweden that only recently have begun to engage in attracting international students. In light of this, the focus of the thesis is twofold: 1) to investigate the factors that influence international students decision on study destination, and 2) how can the University of Gothenburg (GU) use this knowledge to re-design their marketing and recruitment strategies towards international students. The data collection process was performed via semi-structured interviews of current or graduated master students who study or have studied in Sweden and GU staff. The findings indicate three groups of factors that influence international students’ decision on study destination, which include communication, location and social factors. The sub-categories of these factors entail quality of communication, study destination’s attractiveness and social network. The data analysis demonstrates that it is important to understand the motivations and reasons international students choose certain programmes/courses at a specific university. The major contribution of this study is to highlight the significance of the category communication factors which has an important influence on international students’ decision of study destination. In light of this, GU might need to consider the recommended actions and practical implications to formulate their marketing communication strategy to meet the target students more effectively. Overall, this study contributes to improve the understanding of the various factors that underpin students’ decision with regards to choosing a study destination. This knowledge is a key to formulating effective communication and recruitment strategies for HE institutes to attract international students.

Via Dr Vangelis Tsiligiris