Perceptions of International Student Mobility: A Qualitative Case Study of Pakistan

Bushra Javed, Bibi Zainab, Samia Nadeem Zakai, Shahzeb Malik


International Student Mobility (ISM) is progressively becoming a significant aspect of the higher education scenario. The universal higher education milieu has undergone a tremendous change due to ISM as the number of students going abroad for higher education is growing incessantly with every passing year. Pakistan is a developing country that has experienced increasing ISM in the last forty years. Despite all academic and professional opportunities available to students, they desire to go abroad for higher education and settle down there, causing brain drain in the country. This research study attempts to identify the determinants of international student mobility from the perspective of either students, who are in the process of enrolling in international universities or those who are aspiring to go abroad for higher studies. This study used qualitative research approach based on interpretivism paradigm. A total of 14 students from different public and private sector universities participated, out of which nine were male and five were female with ages between 18 and 24 years approximately. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the subjective data. The findings brought to light key academic, professional and social motivations of individuals for studying abroad. These findings can act as a guideline for higher education institutions and national policy makers to draft policies and strategies that might enable reversal of the vicious phenomena of brain drain.


academic motivation, brain drain, international student mobility, professional motivation, social motivations

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