Determinants of Studying at “Home” while Living “Abroad”: A Grounded Theory Study on College-Choice among Western Expatriate and Transnational Distance Students in the Republic of Korea
Since the mid 1980s to today, the Republic of Korea has experienced significant immigration. The influx of various forms of migrants has started changing the makeup of an otherwise ethnically homogenous society. Despite such demographics changes, commensurate adjustments to government policies or institutional services have not necessarily occurred. Globalization and related technological advancements, however, have made it possible to sidestep limitations/obstacles resulting from a lack of recognition or change. In the case of education, the Internet has enabled, at least for some, the ability to continue pursuing education “home”, while continuing to work and live “abroad”. Nevertheless, the determinants of distance education in such instances has not been adequately investigated. Though college choice literature is plentiful, it is largely traditional student oriented and based on face-to-face instruction. Few studies have investigated distance education college choice, which is largely composed of non-traditional student groups. As a result, the motivations and influences on this population’s college enrollment are poorly understood. This grounded theory study investigated the college choice process of long-term foreign residents in Korea who were enrolled in distance education programs in their home countries or abroad elsewhere. Eight expatriate and two transnational distance students participated in interviews where themes of repatriation as a determinant for the impetus to study surfaced, with local educational ecosystem inaccessibility, and home country ecosystem convenience as mediating factors. Implications for policy and directions for local Korean educational institutions are discussed as well as for institutions “abroad”. Future areas of research are suggested.
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