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    Why Study in Latin America?

    International Student Mobility to Colombia and Brazil

    by Alexandra Nitz

    Dissertation submitted

    to the Faculty of Sociology

    at Bielefeld University

    for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. phil.)

    First supervisor: Prof. Thomas Faist, Ph.D., Universität Bielefeld

    Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter Graeff, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

    Bielefeld – Published in March 2017




    Many people supported me throughout the different stages of my doctoral project and

    contributed to the realization of this dissertation. Initially, I want to thank my first

    supervisor, Thomas Faist from Bielefeld University. He accompanied my research with

    continuous feedback through the whole time and was always there when I needed

    support. My thanks also go to my second supervisor, Peter Graeff from Kiel University,

    who provided helpful feedback on the methodological parts of my thesis.

    This dissertation would not have been possible without the contributions from students

    from around the world and people from many institutions in Colombia and Brazil. I owe

    special thanks to all international students who participated in my face-to-face

    interviews and in my online survey, and shared their personal insights with me. With

    reference to my research on Colombia, I am very grateful to the German Academic

    Exchange Service in Bogotá, particularly to Sven Werkmeister, who strongly supported

    me during the two empirical phases. Furthermore, I want to thank the staff from the

    international offices of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Universidad del

    Norte as well as from the Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Technical

    Studies Abroad that helped me recruit participants for my face-to-face interviews.

    Likewise, I am grateful for the assistance of further institutions of higher education in

    Colombia that recruited respondents for my online survey. Moreover, I want to thank

    the Colombian Ministry of National Education for providing detailed information on

    internationalization of higher education in Colombia. Regarding my research on Brazil, I

    owe thanks to Clarissa Neves, who firmly supported me during my research stay at the

    Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul as well as to the staff of the international

    office of the same university, which assisted me in the recruitment of interviewees.

    Additionally, I want to thank the German Academic Exchange Service in Rio de Janeiro

    for providing information on the internationalization of higher education in Brazil.

    Various people helped me with respect to different aspects, such as commenting on

    chapters of my thesis, proofreading of texts and questionnaires that were not written in

    my mother tongue, and participating in the pretests. In this connection, I want to

    express my special thanks to Georgi for his overwhelming support. Moreover, I want to

    thank Inga for her friendship and continuous help at various stages of my project. I am

    also very grateful for the support from my family as well as from further friends and

    colleagues, among them Mahshid, Kathi, Kathrin, Mihi, Michael, Clara, Andrés, Frank,

    Tom and the participants in the colloquium “Transnational Studies”.



    I am especially thankful for the structural support, the three and a half years of

    scholarship and further financial assistance I received from the Bielefeld Graduate

    School in History and Sociology, funded through the German Research Foundation.

    These resources were essential for the realization of my doctoral project.



    Table of Contents List of Tables i List of Graphs ii List of Abbreviations iii


    1.1 International Academic Mobility 7 1.2 Motivations for Choosing a Study Destination 10 1.2.1 Education and Professional Career 12 1.2.2 Living Environment and Personal Development 13 1.2.3 Language 14 1.2.4 Social Networks and Financial Issues 15 1.2.5 Motivations according to Socio-demographic Characteristics 15 1.3 Country Image and Information Sources 16 1.4 Alternative Study Destinations 19 1.5 Methods Applied in Previous Studies 19 1.6 Summary and Identification of Research Gap 20

    2. Theoretical Framework 23

    2.1 Youth Mobility and Individualization 23 2.2 Theoretical Models in the European Context 26 2.3 Social Networks 29 2.4 Country Image and Information Sources 30 2.5 Summary 31

    3. Overview of Research Design 34 3.1 General Procedure 34 3.2 Qualitative Pilot Study on Colombia 36 3.3 Quantitative Survey on Colombia 37 3.4 Qualitative Interviews on Brazil 37 3.5 Summary 38

    PART II: COLOMBIA 39 4. Background Information on Colombia 39

    4.1 Colombian System of Higher Education 39 4.2 Internationalization of Higher Education in Latin America 42

    4.3 Internationalization of Higher Education in Colombia 47 4.4 Summary 52



    5. Empirical Results of the Qualitative Pilot Study 54

    5.1 Development of Guideline and Data Collection 54

    5.2 Description of Interviewees 58

    5.3 Internal Motivations 58

    5.3.1 Education 58

    5.3.2 Professional Career 59

    5.3.3 Living Environment 60

    5.3.4 Personal Development 62

    5.3.5 Language 62

    5.4 External Factors 63

    5.4.1 Social Networks 63

    5.4.2 Structural Issues 64

    5.5 Country Image and Information Sources 65

    5.6 Colombia and Alternative Study Destinations 67

    5.7 Reflection on the Pilot Study 67

    5.8 Summary and Suggestions for the Standardized Survey 69

    6. Preparation of Online Survey Data and Development of Hypotheses 72

    6.1 Development of Questionnaire and Data Collection 72

    6.2 Adjustment of Data 75

    6.3 Grouping of Internal Motivations 78

    6.3.1 Education and Career in General 80

    6.3.2 Education and Career Related to Development/Conflict 80

    6.3.3 Pleasant Living Environment 81

    6.3.4 Personal Development 82

    6.3.5 Model of Internal Motivations for Studying in Colombia 82

    6.4 Hypotheses for Statistical Analysis 83

    6.4.1 Motivations according to Socio-demographic Characteristics 84

    6.4.2 Country Image and Information Sources 84

    6.4.3 Colombia and Alternative Study Destinations 86

    6.5 Summary 90

    7. Empirical Results of Online Survey 92

    7.1 Descriptive Results 92

    7.1.1 Sample 92

    7.1.2 External Factors 95

    7.2 Typology of International Students 97

    7.2.1 Requirements for Cluster Analysis 98



    7.2.2 Results of Cluster Analysis: Five Types of International Students 99 Type 1: Social Analysts 102 Type 2: Language-oriented 103 Type 3: Self-actualizers 104 Type 4: Pragmatists 105 Type 5: Experience-seekers 106

    7.3 Testing of Hypotheses 107

    7.3.1 Motivations according to Socio-demographic Characteristics 107

    7.3.2 Country Image and Information Sources 108

    7.3.3 Colombia and Alternative Study Destinations 112 Requirements for Binary Logistic Regression 114 Results of Binary Logistic Regression 118

    7.4 Summary and Discussion of Empirical Findings 122


    8. International Students in Brazil 125

    8.1 Background Information on Brazil 125

    8.1.1 Brazilian System of Higher Education 125

    8.1.2 Internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil 128

    8.2 Empirical Results of Qualitative Interviews 131

    8.2.1 Data Collection 131

    8.2.2 Description of Interviewees 132

    8.2.3 Internal Motivations 133

    8.2.4 External Factors 135

    8.2.5 Country Image and Information Sources 136

    8.2.6 Brazil and Alternative Study Destinations 137

    8.3 Summary 138