Push and Pull Factors of International Higher Education: A Case Study of Pakistani Female Students Studying in Malaysia

  • Dr Syed Faisal Hyder Shah
  • Musharaf A. Talpur
  • Dr Abdul Razaque Channa
Keywords: Female doctoral students, International higher education, Push factors, Pull factors, Affordability


This paper investigates and analyses various push and pull factors affecting Pakistani female doctoral students to pursue international higher education in Malaysia. The study implemented an open-ended interview approach to collect qualitative data and analysed it using a constant comparative analysis originally developed from Grounded Theory (GT) methodology. The study findings discovered affordability as a major push factor besides other relevant but not less important push factors, such as scholarship conditions to choose Malaysia as a country of destination because of its affordable tuition fees and living expenses. In contrast, this study also identified the principal pull factor that makes Malaysia as a preferred Muslim country for Pakistani women seeking higher education. Other general pull factors, including cultural diversity, lifestyle, security of women and freedom of women, were also found as significantly important as the remaining individual pull factors, such as personal comparison made between Pakistani and Malaysian higher education, students’ previous international experience and family bond. Based on these findings, some lessons are learned and discussed in the details for internationalizing our higher education system in Pakistan in the future.