Cultural exploration main factor for teenage study abroad interest

Culture bigger draw than academic advancement while most students have safety fears, survey finds

February 18, 2017
backpacker explores
Source: Alamy

Three-fifths of teenagers have considered studying abroad but the majority have concerns about safety and security, according to research that reveals the attitudes towards international education among school pupils.

A survey of 5,255 13- to 18-year-olds from 27 countries shows that 60 per cent of respondents had considered a study exchange, and the primary motivation for the majority of participants (57 to 75 per cent, depending on geographic region of origin) was the opportunity to seek new cultural experiences, as distinct from academic advancement.

Respondents from Europe and North America were most likely to cite cultural exploration as the reason, while those in Latin America and Southeast Asia were least likely to give this as a reason.

The study, “Mapping Generation Z: Attitudes toward International Education Programs”, conducted by AFS Intercultural Programs, which provides study abroad and volunteering opportunities, also revealed the perceived hindrances to global study.

Just over half of respondents (52 per cent) said they had concerns about safety and security. This superseded all other perceived roadblocks to pursuing international study, including fear of isolation (50 per cent), homesickness (48 per cent) and discrimination (34 per cent).

The proportion of students citing concerns for safety and security increased by 16 per cent during the survey’s data collection period, which took place between March and December 2016.

Surveys completed before May 2016 indicated a personal safety concern rate of 36 per cent, but this rose to 52 per cent in the following months “when acts of terrorism became frequent”, according to the report.

Affordability is also a significant hurdle to international mobility and study abroad, especially as programmes expand to more countries throughout the developing world, according to the study.

One-third of respondents (33 per cent) in developing countries said that they would need scholarships and grants to pursue international education, compared with just 15 per cent of those in advanced economies.

The research also segmented the respondents on the basis of their primary motivations and their financial resources into four categories: Resumé Packers (high finances, education focus), Academic Achievers (low finances, education focus), Cultural Floaters (high finances, cultural focus) and Cultural Hitchhikers (low finances, cultural focus).

The results indicate that Generation Z are “significantly inclined” towards intercultural learning and exploration, with 67 per cent of all respondents falling into the Cultural Floaters or Hitchhikers categories.

English-speaking countries including the US, UK and Australia are the most sought-after destinations, favoured by 77 per cent of participants.

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

Interesting snapshot findings of higher education contemporary issues.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study