Higher Education

, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 33–47 | Cite as

“Totally different standards”: consumer orientation in study abroad contexts



The paper takes an interest in consumer behavior in international higher education (HE). It takes qualitative narratives of international student experience as a point of departure for a discussion of the degree to which students conceive of their experience in consumer terms when they evaluate their stays abroad. Intentionally, the group of informants consists of culturally diverse subjects (Danish and Chinese students). While the size of the sample does not allow for any wide-ranging conclusions on the connection between cultural background and adoption of consumer identity, it enables the researchers to evaluate whether cultural background seems to pertain to the propensity of students to think and act in a consumer-oriented manner in their experience of the different material and academic standards they were faced with in their study abroad environment. Based on an interest in the role of the student in the era of academic capitalism, the study investigates whether the fact that universities increasingly operate on market and market-like conditions influences students’ way of conceiving of their study abroad experience. To what extent do students perceive themselves as consumers investing in services and products?


Internationalization Academic capitalism Study abroad Consumer experience Academic standards 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Culture and Global StudiesAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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