‘Going the other way’: the motivations and experiences of UK learners as ‘international students’ in higher education
Most literature and research studies on ‘international students’ tend to be unidirectional – in other words, they focus on non-native-English-speaking students entering higher education institutions (HEIs) in Anglophone countries (a few of many examples include Thorstensson (2001), who examined the experiences of Asian students in the USA; Zhang and Brunton (2007), who focused on Chinese students in New Zealand; and Tian and Lowe (2009), who looked at Chinese students in the UK). This chapter aims to address this imbalance by scrutinizing the perspectives of UK students who – in apparently growing numbers after a long period of decline (British Council 2008) – decide to study abroad for part of their degree. An analysis of existing research looking at issues faced by Englishspeaking students when studying overseas is followed by a discussion of survey data collected through an online questionnaire. This was completed by over 150 students, enrolled at ﬁve HEIs in different parts of the UK, who had all spent at least one semester studying at universities in different parts of the world. The following research questions formed the focus of the enquiry:
• What factors motivate UK students to study abroad? • How do UK students describe their experiences of overseas study?