Recognizing the expatriate and transnational distance student: A preliminary demographic exploration in the Republic of Korea

William H. Stewart


Descriptions of distance students in the literature are robust. Yet when speaking about students outside of a national context, nuance is lost by the failure to identify the complexity in borderless higher education. The global student body is often too broadly categorized as “international” when in reality, this can be further refined to produce two additional classifications that more appropriately identify and describe a hitherto invisible phenomenon: the expatriate and transnational distance student. Utilizing respondent-driven sampling, student demographic and academic program data were collected using these two operational definitions. The resulting data suggests a potential profile for the expatriate/transnational distance student phenomenon as manifested in South Korea, along with broader demographic and program characteristics. As a nascent phenomenon and introductory inquiry, the research is limited in scope with the intention of a) establishing a taxonomy for the distance education community, b) a practical method for investigation, and c) avenues for further research such as student characteristics, motivation, attrition/retention, etc. Such insight would assist policy/guidelines for universities, their programs, and instructors.


distance students; transnational education; international education; demographics; Korea; globalisation; research methodology

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