Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2018, No.3, pp.124-138

Investigating the factors influencing university choice for international students (with the main focus on a Russian regional university)

Salosina I. V. 1 (Tomsk, Russian Federation), Ohorzina J. O. 1 (Tomsk, Russian Federation)
1 Tomsk Polytechnic University

Introduction. The article focuses on approaches to analyze, describe and rank the reasons behind the choice of regional higher educational institutions by international students. The aim of the study is to reveal the motives for choosing a regional university in the Siberian part of the Russian Federation by international students.
Materials and Methods. The main research technique was a semi-structured interview. The questionnaire was developed using Maslow's hierarchy of needs and motivators to choose the region of education presented in studies of Syed Zamberi Ahmad, Frederick Robert Buchanan, etc.
Results. The authors attempted to identify how international students choose regional higher education institutions. Significant factors contributing to choosing Tomsk are the following: safety of living and learning environments, interpersonal and cross-cultural relations, opportunity to use the Russian language for career purposes and in everyday communication, study of a target language and culture, etc. The following three groups of respondents with different responses to the questionnaire were identified: students from Southeast Asia (SEA), Africa and European countries.
Conclusions. The authors compiled the list of factors determining the choice of a regional university by international students. The factors were differentiated according to ethnocultural background of respondents. The findings can inform the design and implementation of educational programs for foreigners in Russian universities.


Higher education; International students; Student choice; Causes determining choice; Ethnocultural differences; Decision-making; Motivations; Destination choice; Transnational higher education.

  1. Dementyeva S. V.  Universities of Russia as an Adaptation Mechanism for Educational Migrant (In the Context of the Sociological and Philosophical Analysis). Bulletin of the Tomsk Polytechnic University, 2008, vol. 313, no. 6, pp. 158–164. (In Russian) URL:
  2. Guzarova N. I., Kashkan G. V., Shakhova N. B. Pre-master programs for foreign citizens. Higher Education in Russia, 2013, no. 2, pp. 84–89. (In Russian) URL:
  3. Filimonova N. Yu., Romanyuk E. S.  Chinese Students in Russia. Higher Education in Russia, 2014, no. 8-9, pp. 76–81. (In Russian) URL:
  4. Pashkova M. N. Problems of Foreign Students’ Training in Speech Recognition and Note-Taking of Lectures on the Future Occupation Topics in Technical Universities of Russia. Theory and Practice of Social Development, 2014, no. 7, pp. 58–61. (In Russian) URL:
  5. Tsepilova A. V., Mikhaleva L. V. Foreign language professional competence of future engineer as result of integration of his professional competencies and communicative abilities (taking as example specialty of «Electronics and automatics of physical installations»). Alma Mater, 2016, no. 2, pp. 64–68. (In Russian) URL:
  6. Batrayeva O. M., Savelyeva O. V., Shiryaeva E. V. Adaptation of foreign students in technical college: the program of pedagogical support (from experience). Higher Education Today, 2016, no. 3, pp. 34–37. (In Russian) URL:
  7. Modnov S. I., Ukhova L. V. Problems of Adaptation of Foreign Students Studying in the Technical University. Yaroslavl Pedagogical Bulletin, 2013, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 111–115. (In Russian) URL:
  8. Avdeeva I. B. Studying of Russian by foreign graduate students from Vietnam at initial and advanced stages from cognitive science positions. Alma Mater, 2014, no. 10, pp. 92–96. (In Russian) URL:
  9. Vasilieva T. V., Lyovina G. M., Uskova O. A. Once more about сommunicative competence. Russian Language Abroad, 2012, no. 4, pp. 17–23. (In Russian). URL:
  10. Vasilieva T. V., Uskova O. A. The Development of System of Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language is a Basis for Competitiveness of Russian Education. Russian Language Abroad, 2017, no. 5, pp. 100–104. (In Russian). URL:
  11. Balykhina T. M., Cherkashina T. T. Multicultural format of foreign language education. RUDN Journal of Language Education and Translingual Practices, 2015, no. 1, pp. 42–49. (In Russian).  URL:
  12. Balykhina T. M., Fedorenkov A. D.The Evolution of Pedagogical Mobility and Innovation Mobile Linguodidactics (In the Information-Educational Environment of Learning Russian as a Foreign Language). Russian Linguistic Bulletin, 2016, vol. 2 (6), pp. 113–114. DOI:
  13. Commander N., Zhao Y., Gallagher P., You Y. Cross-national online discussions: international learning experiences with American and Chinese students in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 2016, vol. 53, issue 4, pp. 365–374. DOI:
  14. Yang J., Kinshuk, Yu H., Chen S.-J., Huang R. Strategies for Smooth and Effective Cross-Cultural Online Collaborative Learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 2014, vol. 17 (3),pp. 208–221. URL:
  15. Deng L., Chen Y.-H., Li S. C.  Supporting cross-cultural online discussion with formal and informal platforms: a case between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 2017, no. 12, pp. 5. DOI:
  16. Gram M., Jæger K., Liu J., Qing L., Wu X. Chinese students making sense of problem-based learning and Western teaching – pitfalls and coping strategies. Teaching in Higher Education, 2013, vol. 18, issue 7, pp. 761–772. DOI:
  17. Heng T. T. Different is not deficient: contradicting stereotypes of Chinese international students in US higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 2018, vol. 43, issue 1, pp. 22–36. DOI:
  18. Chen R. T.-H. East-Asian teaching practices through the eyes of Western learners. Teaching in Higher Education, 2014, vol. 19 (1), pp. 26–37. DOI:   
  19. Yang Y., Badger R. How IELTS preparation courses support students: IELTS and academic socialization. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2015, vol. 39, issue 4, pp. 438–465. DOI:  
  20.  Leontiev D. A. A. N. Leontiev’s Concept of Motive and the Issue of the Quality of Motivation. Moscow University Psychology Bulletin. Series 14. Psychology, 2016, no. 2, pp. 3–18. (In Russian) DOI:
  21. Ahmad S. Z., Buchanan F. R. Motivation factors in students decision to study at international branch campuses in Malaysia. Studies in Higher Education, 2017, vol. 42, issue 4, pp. 651–668. DOI:
  22. Ahmad S. Z., Hussain M.  An investigation of the factors determining student destination choice for higher education in the United Arab Emirates. Studies in Higher Education, 2017, vol. 42, issue 7, pp. 1324–1343. DOI:
  23. Ahmad S. Z., Hussain M. The analytic hierarchy process of the decision-making factors of African students in obtaining higher education in the United Arab Emirates. Compare: Journal of Comparative and International Education, 2017, vol. 47, issue 2, pp. 163–176. DOI: 
  24. Wilkins S., Huisman J. Factors affecting university image formation among prospective higher education students: the case of international branch campuses. Studies in Higher Education, 2015, vol. 40, issue 7, pp. 1256–1272. DOI:
  25. Stepanova B. B. Comparative analysis of the causes of foreign students’ educational migration in Russian universities. Buryat State University Bulletin, 2014, no. 14-1, pp. 67–71. (In Russian). URL:
Date of the publication 30.06.2018