M. Gallarza, M. Seric, M. Cuadrado

University of Valencia (SPAIN)
Understanding the process of creating and attributing value has become the cornerstone of marketing strategy and consumer behaviour (Gallarza et al. 2011; Grönroos & Voima, 2013). Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are also engaged in these value co-creation processes, as International students choose among a wide range of Universities when deciding their academic experience in a foreign country.

There are many varied ways of exploring the different conceptual representations of customer value for students (Ledden, Kalafatis, & Samouel, 2007). The more common is the value trade-off as benefits vs. sacrifices. This paper aims at exploring with qualitative method (focus groups with students), the trade-off made by students in their choice of doing an International Academic Experience, at Universidad de Valencia (Spain), through the concept of value.

By means of 4 focus groups conducted among international undergraduate Business students, the paper investigates the role of functional, social and emotional values (Holbrook, 1999), along with costs of time and effort (Zeithaml, 1988) that are faced in the experience of being an international student at Universidad de Valencia.
The originality of this proposal comes from both the method (qualitative, where emotions and discussion can rise easier) and the publics chosen (two different groups of students (domestic and International) which are attending together the Marketing course (2nd year of Bachelor degree).

- Spanish students having chosen to follow, at their home University, the International Course, where all subjects are taught in English, and students are required a B2 English level.
- International students (Erasmus and others) having chosen Valencia as a destination for their semester abroad, coming form USA, China, Italy, France, Netherlands, and Poland.

Two negative dimensions of sacrifice, monetary (price) and non-monetary (time and efforts) and three groups of benefits are proposed to students for discussion: functional (facilities, infrastructure, timetables..), social (relationships with instructors, with other students, networks…) and emotional (having fun while being a student). See some examples of the wordings that will be included and comment on the paper.

- on monetary costs: “All my classmates are doing the internships now and I lost my opportunity to do that” [Female, 21, China]
- on emotional benefits “ It was more about getting to know the culture, using the language and meeting new people from around the world.” [Female,20, Poland].
The results of the content analysis of the wordings show differences on the five dimensions of value, and differences between the two groups of students. Students, in their decision as consumers perceive a multifaceted and contrasted experience.

[1] Grönroos, C. and Voima, P. (2013). “Critical service logic: making sense of value creation and co-creation” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41: 133-150.
[2] Holbrook, M.B. (1999), “Introduction to Consumer Value” and “Conclusions,” in Consumer Value: A Framework For Analysis and Research, ed. Morris B. Holbrook, London, UK: Routledge, 1-28 and 183-197.
[3] Ledden L., Kalafatis, S. P. & Samouel, P. (2007), The Relationship between Personal Values and Perceived Value of Education, Journal of Business Research 60; p965–974.
[4] Zeithaml, V.A. (1988), Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality, and Value: A Means-end Model and Synthesis of Evidence, Journal of Marketing, 52(3), p2-