Preliminary Findings Presented by the Study Abroad Impact Research Team at the Comparative and International Education Society Conference 2023


The 67th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), a gathering of education researchers from around the world, was held in a hybrid format from February 14 to 22, 2023. The research team of the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (JICA Ogata Research Institute) presented their interim findings at the conference in their online presentation “Empirical Research on Impacts of Study Abroad in Developing Countries—based on Study Abroad Experiences of Academic Professionals of Major Universities in ASEAN Countries.”

Members of the research project presenting online

Researchers from Japan, ASEAN, and other parts of the Asia–Pacific have participated in this ongoing research project since 2018. It has been collecting qualitative and quantitative data from ten leading universities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam to empirically determine how the study abroad experiences of faculty members influenced their subsequent academic work and contributed to the development of their home universities. The launch of the questionnaire survey coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made data collection challenging. However, by 2022, responses were obtained from 3,300 faculty members studying at the ten universities. The initial results of the analysis were reported in a panel session at the conference.

The panel was moderated by Sarah R. Asada (associate professor, Kyoritsu Women's University) with Kayashima Nobuko (senior research advisor, JICA Ogata Research Institute) providing an overview of the research project and the data collection. Ashida Akemi (associate professor, Nagoya University) reported on the data from Cambodia, Umemiya Naoki (professor, Sophia University) reported on Indonesia, Sugimura Miki (professor, Sophia University) reported on Malaysia, and Jung Hyun Jasmine Ryu (JICA expert, Japan-Vietnam University) reported on Vietnam. The country case studies used data from questionnaires and interviews at leading universities in each country to compare faculty members who had studied abroad with those who had not, and to determine the impact of doctoral or master’s study abroad experiences on their academic activities.

Considering the main activities of faculty members in universities, namely teaching, research, social contribution, and university management, it was reported that faculty study abroad experiences had a particularly significant impact on their main job duties, in particular on research activities in Cambodia, teaching and research activities in Indonesia, teaching activities in Malaysia, and teaching, research, and university management activities in Vietnam.

Faculty study abroad had a positive impact on teaching and research in all four countries; however, some differences were also observed. Such differences may have resulted from the different higher education contexts of each country, including their histories, levels of development, and national higher education policies. It was also found that the countries with developed postgraduate education systems could train university lecturers domestically, and these lecturers' study abroad experiences have influenced their subsequent international activities.

In the discussion after the presentation, conference attendees inquired about the negative impacts of studying abroad, how to deal with brain drain and brain circulation resulting from studying abroad, the reasons for the relatively small impact that study abroad has on social contribution and university administration activities, as well as plans for compiling research results in the future. A lively discussion between the presenters and the audience ensued.

As this presentation provided only an initial analysis of the data, further analysis is needed, drawing on the discussions in this panel session.

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