Destination, Experience, Social Network, and Institution

Exploring Four Academic Exchange Pull Factor Dimensions at a University in the Republic of Korea


  • Kyungsuk Lee Boise State University
  • Willam H. Stewart Hankuk University of Foreign Studies



Student mobility, Exchange students, Korean learning, Pull factors


Korean universities have shown a dramatic change in international student enrolment over the last 20 years. While a notable increase in enrolment is undeniable, factors related to international students at Korean universities are not well known or are poorly understood. In this exploratory correlational study, we investigated the relationship between gender and study level using the push–pull model among four pull factor dimensions: (a) Appeal of Korea, (b) Experiential Motivations, (c) Social Network Influences, and (d) Institutional Appeal. Short-term exchange students (N = 601) showed that Experiential Motivations was the most salient pull factor dimension in general. A 2x3 analysis of variance indicated statistically significant differences by gender and study level among the four pull factor dimensions. We conclude by discussing mobility programs and the need to account for the different motivations of potential students typologically in order to design policies and programs more effectively.

Author Biographies

Kyungsuk Lee, Boise State University

KYUNGSUK LEE, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor of Korean language at Boise State University where she teaches beginner’s and intermediate Korean. She has been teaching Korean in distance and in-person as well. She specializes in Korean language learning in informal settings where language intersects with culture. Email:

Willam H. Stewart, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

WILLIAM H. STEWART, EdD, is the Inbound Exchange Student Program Manager at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, where he coordinates all aspects of inbound exchanges. He specializes in transnational and international education, particularly where these fields intersect with distance education. His research focuses on student motivations for, and experiences with distance education in cross-border settings with a focus on the Korean context. He earned a doctorate in Educational Technology from Boise State University. Email: ORCid:


Ahmad, S. Z., & Buchanan, F. R. (2016). Choices of destination for transnational higher education:“Pull” factors in an Asia Pacific market. Educational Studies, 42, 163-180

Ahmad, S. Z., Buchanan, F. R., & Ahmad, N. (2016). Examination of students’ selection criteria for international education. International Journal of Educational Management, 30, 1088-1103.

Alemu, A. M., & Cordier, J. (2017). Factors influencing international student satisfaction in Korean universities. International Journal of Educational Development, 57, 54-64.

Altbach, P. G. (2015). Knowledge and education as international commodities. International Higher Education, 28, 2-5.

Altbach, P. G., & de Wit, H. (2020, March). COVID-19: The internationalisation revolution that

isn’t. University World News.

Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The internationalization of higher education: Motivations and realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11, 290-305.

Archer, T. M. (2008). Response rates to expect from web-based surveys and what to do about it. Journal of Extension, 46.

Bae, S. Y., & Song, H. (2017). Intercultural sensitivity and tourism patterns among international students in Korea: Using a latent profile analysis. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 22, 436-448.

Beech, S. E. (2015). International student mobility: The role of social networks. Social & Cultural Geography, 16, 332-350.

Bennett, L., & Nair, C. S. (2010). A recipe for effective participation rates for web‐based surveys. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35, 357-365.

Burford, B., Hesketh, A., Wakeling, J., Bagnall, G., Colthart, I., Illing, J., et al. (2009). Asking the right questions and getting meaningful responses: 12 tips on developing and administering a questionnaire survey for healthcare professionals. Medical Teacher, 31, 207-211.

Byun, K., Jon, J. E., & Kim, D. (2013). Quest for building world-class universities in South Korea: Outcomes and consequences. Higher Education, 65, 645-659.

Byun, K., & Kim, M. (2011). Shifting patterns of the government’s policies for the internationalization of Korean higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 15, 467-486.

Chan, S. (2012). Shifting patterns of student mobility in Asia. Higher Education Policy, 25, 207-224.

Chun, S., Kim, H., Park, C. K., McDonald, K., Sun Ha, O., Kim, D. L., & Lee, S. M. (2017). South Korean students' responses to English-medium instruction courses. Social Behavior and Personality, 45, 951-965.

DeLoach, S. B., Kurt, M. R., & Olitsky, N. H. (2019). Duration matters: Separating the impact of depth and duration in study abroad programs. Journal of Studies in International Education, 00, 1-19.

Dobos, K. (2011). “Serving two masters”–Academics’ perspectives on working at an offshore

campus in Malaysia. Educational Review, 63, 19-35.

Edwards, P. J., Roberts, I., Clarke, M. J., DiGuiseppi, C., Wentz, R., Kwan, I., ... & Pratap, S. (2009). Methods to increase response to postal and electronic questionnaires. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3. 1-527.

Enright, M. J., & Newton, J. (2005). Determinants of tourism destination competitiveness in Asia Pacific: Comprehensiveness and universality. Journal of Travel Research, 43, 339-350.

Francois, E. J. (2016) What is transnational education? In: Francois E. J., Avoseh M. B. M., Griswold W. (Eds) Perspectives in transnational higher education (pp. 639-653). SensePublishers.

Green, C. (2015). Internationalization, deregulation and the expansion of higher education in Korea: An historical overview. International Journal of Higher Education, 4, 1-13.

Greenholtz, J., & Kim, J. (2009). The cultural hybridity of Lena: A multi-method case study of a third culture kid. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 33, 391-398.

Habib, L., Johannesen, M., & Øgrim, L. (2014). Experiences and challenges of international students in technology-rich learning environments. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17, 196-206.

Higher Education in Korea [HEIK] (n.d.). Status of foreign students (university). Higher Education in Korea.

Hou, A. Y. C., Hill, C., Chen, K. H. J., Tsai, S., & Chen, V. (2017). A comparative study of student mobility programs in SEAMEO-RIHED, UMAP, and Campus Asia: Regulation, challenges, and impacts on higher education regionalization. Higher Education Evaluation and Development, 11, 12-24.

Iloh, C. (2018). Toward a new model of college “choice” for a twenty-first-century context.

Harvard Educational Review, 88, 227-244.

Jager, S., Nissen, E., Helm, F., Baroni, A., & Rousset, I. (2019). Virtual exchange as innovative practice across Europe. Awareness and use in higher education. EVOLVE Project BaselineStudy.

Jon, J. E. (2009). ‘Interculturality’ in higher education as student intercultural learning and development: A case study in South Korea. Intercultural Education, 20, 439-449.

Jon, J. E., Lee, J. J., & Byun, K. (2014). The emergence of a regional hub: Comparing international student choices and experiences in South Korea. Higher Education, 67, 691-710. 10.1007/s10734-013-9674-0

Kim, D., Bankart, C. A., Jiang, X., & Brazil, A. M. (2018). Understanding the college choice process of Asian international students. In Y. Ma & M. A. Garcilla-Murillo (Eds.) Understanding international students from Asia in American universities (pp. 15-41). Springer International Publishing.

Kim, S. J. (2017). Leveraging process evaluation for project development and sustainability: The case of the CAMPUS Asia program in Korea. Journal of Studies in International Education, 21, 315-332.

Kim, T. (2011). Globalization and higher education in South Korea – towards ethnocentric internationalization or global commercialization of higher education? In King, R., Marginson, S. and Naidoo, R. (Eds). Handbook of globalization and higher education (pp. 286-305). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kim, T. (2017). Academic mobility, transnational identity capital, and stratification under conditions of academic capitalism. Higher Education, 73, 981-997. 10.1007/s10734- 017-0118-0

Krechetnikov, K. G., & Pestereva, N. M. (2017). A comparative analysis of the education systems in Korea and Japan from the perspective of internationalization. European Journal of Contemporary Education, 6, 77-88. 10.13187/ejced.2017.1.77

Lam, J., Ariffin, A., Ahmad, A. (2011). Edutourism: Exploring the push-pull factors in selecting a university. International Journal of Business and Society, 12, 63-78.

Lee, S. W. (2017). Circulating East to East: Understanding the push–pull factors of Chinese studying in Korea. Journal of studies in International Education, 21, 170-190.

Lee, J., Jon, J. E., & Byun, K. (2017). Neo-racism and neo-nationalism within East Asia: The experiences of international students in South Korea. Journal of Studies in International Education, 21, 136-155.

Lesjak, M., Juvan, E., Ineson, E. M., Yap, M. H., & Axelsson, E. P. (2015). Erasmus student motivation: Why and where to go? Higher Education, 70, 845-865.

Li, M., & Bray, M. (2007). Cross-border flows of students for higher education: Push–pull factors and motivations of mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong and Macau. Higher Education, 53, 791-818.

Llewellyn‐Smith, C., & McCabe, V. S. (2008). What is the attraction for exchange students: The host destination or host university? Empirical evidence from a study of an Australian university. International Journal of Tourism Research, 10, 593-607.

Madge, C., Raghuram, P., & Noxolo, P. (2015). Conceptualizing international education: From international student to international study. Progress in Human Geography, 39, 681-701.

Mazzarol, T., & Soutar, G. N. (2002). “Push‐pull” factors influencing international student destination choice. International Journal of Educational Management, 16, 82-90.

National Institute for International Education [NIIE] (n.d.). For the development of human resources in the age of globalization. National Institute for International Education.

Nghia, T. L. H. (2019). Motivations for studying abroad and immigration intentions: The case of Vietnamese students. Journal of International Students, 9, 758-776.

Nilsson, P. A. (2015). Expectations and experiences of inbound students: Perspectives from Sweden. Journal of International Students, 5, 161-174.

Park, S. (2019). The globalization of Korean universities and Chinese students: A comparative analysis between universities in Seoul and a provincial city. Korean Anthropology Review, 3, 253-291.

Perez-Encinas, A., & Ammigan, R. (2016). Support services at Spanish and U.S. institutions: A driver for international student satisfaction. Journal of International Students, 6, 984-998.

Rensimer, L. (2016). International higher education for whom? Expatriate students, choice-making and international (im) mobility in the Northern United Arab Emirates. FIRE, 3, 79-96.

Shin, G. W., & Moon, R. J. (2019). Korea’s migrants: From homogeneity to diversity: An Asian survey special section. Asian Survey, 59, 595-606.

Stewart, W. H. (2019). The complexity of transnational distance students: A review of the literature. Open Praxis, 11, 23–39.

Waclawski, E. (2012). How I use it: Survey Monkey. Occupational Medicine, 62, 477-477.

Wiers-Jenssen, J. (2020). What brings international students to Norway?. Journal of International Students, 10, ix-xii.

Wilkins, S., Balakrishnan, M. S., & Huisman, J. (2012). Student choice in higher education: Motivations for choosing to study at an international branch campus. Journal of Studies in International Education, 16, 413-433.



How to Cite

Lee, K., & Stewart, W. H. (2022). Destination, Experience, Social Network, and Institution: Exploring Four Academic Exchange Pull Factor Dimensions at a University in the Republic of Korea. Journal of International Students, 12(4), 889–908.



Research Articles (English)