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Ferris State University

Study Abroad Program


Marketing Research Report
Research Conducted for:
Ferris State University Study Abroad Program
Research Conducted by:
Allison Caister
Tyler Hanan
Erik Thoreson
Mark Wylie
Ferris State University Marketing 425-004

Table of Contents
Executive Summary....................................................................................................................................... 2
Research Objectives .................................................................................................................................. 2
Concise Statement of Method .................................................................................................................. 2
Summary of Key Findings .......................................................................................................................... 3
Conclusions and Recommendation .......................................................................................................... 3
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 4
Secondary Research .................................................................................................................................. 4
Research Methods and Procedures .............................................................................................................. 9
Research Methods .................................................................................................................................... 9
Procedures .............................................................................................................................................. 10
Data Analysis & Findings ............................................................................................................................. 11
Conclusions ................................................................................................................................................. 15
Recommendations ...................................................................................................................................... 15
Limitations .................................................................................................................................................. 16
Appendix ..................................................................................................................................................... 18
References .............................................................................................................................................. 18
General Data Findings ............................................................................................................................. 19
Survey...................................................................................................................................................... 22

Executive Summary
Research Objectives
The objective of the research is to answer the following questions
How do students learn about study abroad opportunities?
What deters Ferris State University students from studying abroad?
How does diversity of various types (major, year in school, age, gender or ethnicity)
correlate with interest and awareness of study abroad?

Concise Statement of Method


Data for this research project was collected using a survey that collected quantitative
information. The survey was administered in several different ways. First, it was administered
at the Ferris State University Study Abroad Fair in the Interdisciplinary Resource Center (IRC) by
those in charge of the international office. Second, the survey was sent to every student via
email two times. Additionally, the survey was administered to more students through social
media exposure.
The study abroad survey consisted of 40 questions and collected nominal, ordinal,
interval and ratio data. The survey was available for three weeks and over that course of time,
the survey was submitted by 197 students of Ferris State University. This number was less than
desired, but was still significant.

Summary of Key Findings


Students who are interested in study abroad get much of their information from posters
on campus.
Students are also highly influenced by word of mouth. (past attendees of study abroad
programs and in class presentations)
Cost is the most significant barrier that keeps Ferris State University students from
studying abroad.
Other significant barriers include time restrictions, current employment, and the
arrangement of living arrangement while studying abroad.

Five out of eleven African-American students who responded to the survey stated that
they plan to do study abroad.

The data shows that those higher up in class standings are more aware of the study
abroad program opportunities than those who are lower in class standings
15% of the College of Business students who responded plan to do study abroad;
however, only 1.5% of the respondents have done study abroad.
Those that study health professions stated that almost 40% of them know about the
study abroad opportunities on campus however, none reported that they were planning
to study abroad.

Conclusions and Recommendation


The Ferris State Study Abroad Program should focus its marketing and advertising efforts on
students who are planning on study abroad but have yet to go on a study abroad trip.
According to the data analysis, many of these students are located in the college of business so
this would be a great place to start. Marketing efforts should also be focused on groups on
campus that attract more of an ethnically diverse group, such as YBBW. Informational posters
should be hung up in residence halls where many of the younger students, who know less
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about the study abroad program, will see them. Past study abroad students should be
encouraged to share their experiences with other prospective students to increase positive
word of mouth.

Introduction
The purpose of this research is to gather information for the Ferris State University
Study Abroad Program. The study abroad program, a part of Ferris State Universitys
International Office, does not have as broad of reach as they would like to have. The research
gathered in this report seeks to uncover the best ways, new or old, for study abroad to market
itself to students. In order to accomplish this, we also have researched the costs and benefits of
study abroad programs to students.

Secondary Research

General study abroad information

The move to globalization in the U.S. originated during WWI and WWII as a way to
promote readiness and global competition through knowledge of language and experience.
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The number of U.S. students studying abroad has steadily increased, from under 50,000 in
1985 to over 270,000 in 2010/2011. Over 46,000 additional U.S. students were studying for full
degrees abroad in 14 countries outside the United States (Highum, 2014) But from research it
has been found that although 50% of high school seniors expressed interest in participating in a
study abroad trip through their university of choice, only 2% ever end up participating.
(Highum, 2014) This is partially due to other available experiences, but much of the reasoning
has to do with other priorities or financial strain.

In 2012, over 283,000 students from the U.S. studied abroad. 53% of all U.S. study
abroad students travel to European countries and 16% of U.S study abroad student travel to
the countries in Latin America. It has also been found that 22% of students that study abroad
from the U.S. are social science majors, and 21% of these students are business and
management majors. As for duration, 59% of U.S. student trips taken abroad are short term,
only 3% of these trips last a full academic year or longer.

Effects of study abroad

Even if students are only able to complete a short-term study abroad program, they are
still deeply culturally affected. The article went on to say that students in longer term programs

tended to spend more time interacting with others in their group, whereas shorter term
program participants usually are involved with highly structured events which ensure culturally
enriched experiences. (Mapp, 2012) Overall, it was found that students involved in study
abroad programs (no matter the length) scored higher in the areas of intercultural awareness,
personal growth and development, functional knowledge, and communication and language
skills. (Mapp, 2012)

Diversity of study abroad

According to findings 76.4% of all U.S. students that participate in study abroad
programs are white. 7.7% are Asian/ Pacific Islander 7.6% Hispanic/Latino, and 5.3% African
American. (Mazyck, 2014) Additionally, it has been found that one obstacle to participation is
that minority students often are not eager to experience the world outside their comfort zones
or discuss their experiences once they return to the U.S. Gretchen Cook-Anderson, director of
diversity recruiting and advising for study abroad provider International Education Abroad (IES),
says that financial access and lack of exposure are a few reasons why minority student
participation rates in study abroad programs are low. (Mazyck, 2014)

One study takes a look at a number of York University students who spent their study
abroad time in China. It goes into detail about different racial dynamics; candidates who didnt
look North American had to explain more about themselves than those who did. It was
emphasized how part of the experience is to take a conscious look at other cultures, to be
disoriented, to expand the candidates worldviews, their perspectives. Whats interesting,
though is that it isnt just American students go to another country. In certain areas of the
world, it could matter greatly if that student is black or white, Chinese-American or ArmenianAmerican.
Merely going abroad may not be enough. There must be documentation and concentrated
effort to broaden horizons and learn cultures. Simply being an American abroad does not
guarantee significant globalization, enough transformation. There was also frustration at the
language barrier, an unavoidability, but perhaps one that can be better prepared for. All
experienced racial bias of a sort, but the bias experienced by white students was a more
flattering one, one that gave them the sense of absolute belonging and importance. Our
data suggested that a positive or liberating outcome of this outsider experience was students
conscious choices to allow themselves room to look, act and behave differently, and to take
risks in relation to their personae at home. The study and its results supported taking
initiative, that those who study abroad should actively seek to transform themselves. This
would seem to give certain personality types a leg up.

Michigan studies abroad

Between the years of 2011 and 2012 the amount of students studying abroad from Michigan
raised from 8,949 to 9,384. This shows a pretty significant growth for studying abroad programs
around the state. Although, the number of Michigan students enrolled in the Fulbright Program
between the years 2013 and 2014 decreased from 73 to 54.
Against study abroad

Those that take a heavy anti-study abroad stance, accuse colleges of misinformation and,
in a sense, extortion. Naming such things as Peace Corps and international positions, they
emphasizes that study abroad is not a one-time, college-only experience. (Rhodes, 2013)
Besides that, during college is when it will be most expense, perhaps costing as much as several
thousand dollars. It can also be costly in terms of the time missed at home, time is taken from
other studies and activities, and graduation is pushed back. Whats more, the country is a
melting pot. We can find other cultural experiences right here at home. (Rhodes, 2013)

Others have a measured take on study abroad. Supporting it, but only for certain
students. It is a costly endeavor, but one that is greatly beneficial to students, one rich in
cultural experiences. Some students wont make full use of the opportunity, not taking
initiative to learn about other cultures. This goes beyond robbing themselves of benefits, they
are also wasting any money they took from the program, money that could have been used on

another, more enterprising student. (Kortebeine, 2013) Because of this, only more motivated
and driven students should attempt to study abroad, especially if they cannot easily afford it.
Also, its a program for the enhancement of the individual in ways that will further their career.
If the student will not benefit professionally from the study abroad experience, it could be a
misstep.

Research Methods and Procedures


Research Methods
Much of our research was descriptive. We sought information on study abroad that
would help us define and understand the clients situation, researching what influences a
students decision as to whether pursue study abroad or not. We also sought to understand the
advantages and disadvantages of it. Much of this was conducted through literature reviews,
along with some information given from those in charge of the Ferris State University Study
Abroad Program. We had both internal and external secondary data, much of it collected by the
schools themselves and government agencies, respectively. The primary data was collected
through a survey.
Our sample was easy to define in a broad sense: Ferris State University students. More
specifically, we focused on younger students; we wanted to know how well those new to the
university have been informed of study abroad. Our units were individual college students. The
sample size was determined by student body size, the number of students on campus, and the
number of students who responded to the survey.
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Procedures
The procedures we used for our study abroad survey is the descriptive research design.
The secondary data type we collected was information regarding the study abroad program.
We spoke to the professor to figure out what the ultimate goal is when conducting the survey.
When learning about the study abroad program, we added suggestions and thought of
objectives that cover the issues for study abroad. The research design process included the
collection of many questions from the class. The relevance of each question was determined
based on our research objective and then they were categorized based on the type of question
that they were. Once the survey was made, it then was posted on surveymonkey and was sent
to the target population through their student email accounts. The survey was available for
three weeks. The collected data was processed by survey monkey and was analyzed. Our target
population was defined as Ferris State University students. The unit we used was each year or
student ranking i.e. freshman, sophomore, etc. The population size was determined to be
15,000 students in the Big Rapids location.

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Data Analysis & Findings


1. How do students learn about study abroad opportunities?
Looking over the data above the survey
asked participants how they found out
about the study abroad program and how
interested are they hearing more about
study abroad. Posters and word of mouth
that rank the highest when they found out
about the program each totaling at 69. The study abroad program should consider this when
trying to gain awareness. The best ways are placing posters around campus and generate buzz
around the university to build awareness. When looking at the interested category, we
considered 3-5 showing any interest towards the study abroad program. The word of mouth
method has the highest interest total between 3 and 5.

Asking how students heard about the study abroad program and if they would be interested in
learning more. The Ferris State website is the most popular way students heard about the
program totaling at 55. It also ranked the highest when counting the number of people that had
shown the most interest (ranking between three and five) in learning more about the program.

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The second most popular for method is speaking in class about the program to students. It will
then create awareness through the cafeteria, resident halls, and other school buildings when
more people talk about it.
2. What deters Ferris State University students from studying abroad?
As part of the data collected, students were
asked what barriers kept them from studying
abroad. Listed below are the findings:

It was discovered that cost is the largest


barrier that keeps students from studying abroad
with 30.4%. Several other barriers received
significant responses including time restrictions,
current employment, living arrangements while
studying abroad. 9.5% of respondents stated that a
major barrier for them is that they are currently
unaware of the Study Abroad opportunities that are available to them.

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3. How does diversity of various types (major, year in school, gender or ethnicity) correlate
with interest and awareness of study abroad?
Finally, we went analyzed the relationship between student diversity and interest and
awareness of study abroad. The factors of diversity included in the analysis are ethnicity, class
standing, area of study, and gender.

Although the data


collected for this section is
slightly skewed because 79% of
the respondents to the survey
were of Caucasian descent,
some important information
can be taken from the
research. According to the findings, five out of eleven African-American students who
responded to the survey stated that they plan to do study abroad and three stated that they
know a little about the study abroad program at Ferris. Another interesting piece of data is that
of the eleven Hispanic students that responded to the survey six said that they knew a little
about the study abroad program and none said that they were planning on studying abroad.
This data does not derive from a significant amount of respondents but it may give the study
abroad program a new outlook on their relationship with ethnic diversity

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This chart shows the


relationship between class standing
and awareness of study abroad. The
data shows that those higher up in
class standings are more aware of
the study abroad program
opportunities than those who are
lower in class standings, which is to be expected. According to the research, a significant
number of the juniors who responded to the survey plan to study abroad.

The results of the


survey showed that a large
number of students in the
business college responded
to the survey. Out of these
students, 15% of them plan
to do study abroad;
however, only 1.5% of the respondents have done study abroad. Those that study health
professions stated that almost 40% of them know about the study abroad opportunities on
campus however, none reported that they were planning to study abroad.

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Conclusions
Students who are interested in study abroad get much of their information from posters
on campus.
Students are also highly influenced by word of mouth. (past attendees of study abroad
programs and in class presentations)
Cost is the most significant barrier that keeps Ferris State University students from
studying abroad.
Other significant barriers include time restrictions, current employment, and the
arrangement of living arrangement while studying abroad.

Five out of eleven African-American students who responded to the survey stated that
they plan to do study abroad.

The data shows that those higher up in class standings are more aware of the study
abroad program opportunities than those who are lower in class standings
15% of the College of Business students who responded plan to do study abroad;
however, only 1.5% of the respondents have done study abroad.
Those that study health professions stated that almost 40% of them know about the
study abroad opportunities on campus however, none reported that they were planning
to study abroad.

Recommendations
The Ferris State Study Abroad Program should focus its marketing and advertising efforts on
students who are planning on study abroad but have yet to go on a study abroad trip.
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According to the data analysis, many of these students are located in the college of business so
this would be a great place to start.
Also focus marketing efforts on groups on campus that attract more of an ethnically diverse
group, such as YBBW.

Create informational posters and have them hung up in the residence halls where more of the
younger students who know less about the study abroad program will see them.
Encourage past study abroad students to share their experiences with other prospective
students.

Limitations
The research collected through the survey and analysis has several limitations regarding its
reliability and validity. Listed below are the major limitations of the research.

Sampling bias- Many of the response for this survey were collected at the Study Abroad Fair,
which may have biased some of the responses. The people at the Study Abroad Fair may have
felt pressure to show more interest because they were taking the survey at the Study Abroad
booth. Other students may have felt a similar pressure to answer in an ideal fashion upon
taking the survey online. Another sampling basis could have come from the fact that many
students from the Marketing 425 class took the survey, possibly skewing responses. Another
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complication comes from the fact that most students in these classes are seniors, which may
have skewed the questions about class standing and age of respondent.

Sample size- The amount of survey participants was lower than the amount that was originally
desired. Even though the survey was sent out campus-wide twice, the survey only received 197
responses, including those that were collected at the Study Abroad Fair. The survey was active
for only a total of two week, If the survey had been available for a longer period of time, its
possible that a larger amount of surveys would be submitted.

Demographics- There is a large imbalance in regards to the demographic makeup of the


respondents to the Study Abroad Survey. Almost 67% of the respondents identified themselves
as female and 89% of those surveyed stated that they were caucasian. One of the main
research objective set for this proposal was to discover the role that diversity played in the
interest and awareness of Study Abroad and this imbalance creates a complication.

Budgeting- This research was not funding in any way and was distributed through free channels
such as social media and email. A budget could have allowed us to create print outs to promote
the survey or to have prize that would have been won by one of the survey respondents. This
could have encouraged more students to respond, finish, and submit the survey.

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High non-response rate- There were a large amount of people who received the survey and did
not respond in any way to the survey questions. In addition, there were many people who
skipped a large portion of the questions on the survey, which meant that their answers had to
be filled out based on a best guess that considered their past answers and the answers of those
similar to them demographically.

Appendix
References
Mazyck, Jamal E. "Experts address the lack of minority participation in study abroad programs."
Diverse Issues in Higher Education 5 June 2014: 7. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Mapp, Susan C. "Effect of short-term study abroad programs on students' cultural adaptability."
Journal of Social Work Education 48.4 (2012): 727+. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Highum, Ann; Rhodes, Gary; Loberg, Lisa; Hubbard, Ann "Historical, Philosophical, and Practical
Issues in Providing Global Learning Opportunities Through Study Abroad." New Directions for
Student Services 2014.146 (2014): 5+. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Rhodes,Adam. Study abroad benefits can be found locally.


UWIRE Text. 30 October 2013. 20 Sept. 2014
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Kortebeine, Katherine. Study Abroad Programs Still Beneficial to Students Despite Cost.
UWIRE Text. 30 October 2013. 20 Sept. 2014

Trilokekar, Roopa. Disorienting experiences during study abroad: Reflection of pre-service


teacher candidate. Teaching and Teacher Education Volume 27 Issue 10 October 2011. 20
Sept. 2014.

Institute of International Education. (2013). "Students with Disabilities, 2006/07-2011/12."


Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from
http://www.iie.org/opendoors

General Data Findings

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Survey
*See attached*

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