Corvinus University Budapest (HUNGARY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 4924-4931
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
In a global world the higher education plays a greater role in the society than it did before. Increased mobility of students becomes one of the key elements of competitiveness and several countries are willing and ready to host more foreign students in the future. The aim of our research is to extend our knowledge by identifying the factors that have a great role in students’ satisfaction with their stay and education in a foreign country.

Country image is a very complex, multidimensional concept, consisting of several dimensions. This image has a special influence on students’ choice of destination for their international studies (e.g. the Erasmus exchange program). In order to identify the main dimensions that affect this decision we carried out qualitative and quantitative research.

Our aim is to construct a new, alternative measurement for country image focusing on the image of the country and its higher education among foreign students. Firstly, country image is formed on the basis of first impressions through various channels and about various aspects of the country. Secondly, it is developed by experience with the country and its inhabitants. Our qualitative measurement approach is concentrating on the differences between first impression image and images based on experience during the exchange program. We examined 390 essays of foreign exchange students from all over the word by content analysis and compared their 1st impression of the country and their image after studying 4 months in the country.

Besides, we carried out quantitative research in 2004 and 2010 among foreign exchange students about their views on the country and their educational facilities. We analyzed evaluations of the country’s and the universities’ services, also behaviors and attitudes towards foreigners in specific situations (health care, authorities etc).

Our results show that there are several factors and indicators that affect whether the student would choose the country for higher education again if he/she had a choice.

Satisfaction with the accommodation, transportation, entertainment, sports and shopping facilities in a country affect the overall perceptions. Satisfaction with the academic program, the variety of courses, the bureaucracy level of the University, teaching methods used by the professors, the usage of internet and online tools in courses, the scientific prestige, the quality of lectures and seminars, the English knowledge of the professors, the library and other university infrastructure and the non-academic programs play important role in students’ evaluation, but to a very different degree and there are significant differences between exchange students’ and regular students’ expectations. Helpful, indifferent or hostile behaviors the student experienced in specific situations (with authorities, bureaucracy, on the street, in bars etc.) can alter his satisfaction with his/her country choice. Students coming from countries of different economic levels also show significant differences between their expectations and satisfaction.
Country image, foreign exchange students, image of higher education.