A Systematic Review and Conceptual Model of International Student Mobility Decision-Making

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

A Systematic Review and Conceptual Model of International Student Mobility Decision-Making


  • Anouk J. Albien Department of Curriculum Studies, Centre for Higher and Adult Education, Stellenbosch University, South Africa / Work & Organisational Psychology Division, Psychology Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Ngoako J. Mashatola Department of Curriculum Studies, Centre for Higher and Adult Education, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract:  This research synthesizes the most recent studies on the international student mobility of higher education students. Our aim is to begin to conceptualise and predict the barriers, enablers and determinants from an organisational psychology perspective that may contribute to the limited decision making of higher education students to become internationally mobile. Previous studies were used to examine the uncertainties and difficulties documented in other international student groups to try to understand the determinants of internationally mobile versus non internationally mobile students, and make transferrable conceptual links to South African higher education students. These conceptual links are framed in an organizational psychology perspective. This article uses a systematic review methodology and began by framing review objectives, identifying relevant publications, establishing criteria for selecting the studies that were analyzed, summarizing the evidence found, and drawing relevant conclusions. A conceptual model is proposed as an extension of the current international student mobility literature and merged with organizational psychology theory to develop a new future research line. Research limitations are addressed, and practical implications are discussed to assess whether interventions can be created to support international mobility decision-making amongst international students in general, and South African higher education students in particular, to create a globally competitive workforce and sustainable employment paths.

Keywords:  global workforce; higher education students; international student mobility; internationally non-mobile students; mobility barriers; mobility decision-making; mobility determinants; mobility enablers; organizational psychology; South Africa; sustainable e

Published:   25 March 2021


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i1.3769


© Anouk J. Albien, Ngoako J. Mashatola. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.