Study destination preference and post-graduation intentions: a push-pull factor theory perspective

Shahrokh Nikou*, Bibek Kadel, Dandi Merga Gutema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The choices that international students make regarding abroad study destination selection or leave the host country after graduation are influenced by a variety of factors that are both related to positive and negative aspects of the host country. Design/methodology/approach: This study builds on the push-pull factor theory and examines the factors that influence international students' decision to choose abroad study destination (Finland) or leave the country after their graduations. The data were collected through an online survey of 195 international students currently studying in Finland and were analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) technique. This method offers a flexible and robust approach to test relationships, particularly in situations where sample size and the conceptual model are small and complex. Findings: The results show that international students' choice of study destination (Finland) is influenced by the host country's quality of life, academic excellence and economic factors such as salary and benefits. Unfamiliarity with the culture and language barriers have a negative impact on their decisions to stay in the host country after graduation. Originality/value: By utilising a comprehensive analysis of both push and pull factors in relation to the host country, this study unveils a novel perspective in the field of international student mobility. The results provide insights to the institutional leaders and policymakers into how to attract and retain international students by focusing on the factors that matter most to international students. To attract more international students, higher education institutions (HEIs) should include career development activities, e.g. job fairs, language training, scholarships and internships in their curriculum. Moreover, it provides recommendations on how to create a welcoming and supportive environment that promotes academic excellence and career development.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Abroad study
  • Higher education
  • International students
  • Migration


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