International student mobility aspirations: The role of romantic relationships and academic motivation

Tom De Winter*, Christof Van Mol, Helga A. G. de Valk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The academic literature on the determinants of international student mobility so far has largely ignored the influence of romantic relationships and study motivation in the development of aspirations to participate in temporary learning experiences in another country. However, young adults might take considerations about investments in individual development (via academic training and thus study motivation) and romantic relationships into account in their decision-making process. Consequently, we apply a life-course perspective analyzing the relationships between having a romantic partner, study motivation, and aspirations to participate in an international exchange program among first-year university students, based on a survey conducted among 603 freshmen in Brussels. As female students are more likely to participate in student exchanges compared with male students, we pay special attention to gender differences. Our results show that a romantic relationship is negatively correlated with aspirations to participate in an international student exchange among female students. In contrast, intrinsic academic motivation is significantly associated with such aspirations among female and male students. Overall, our findings indicate the need for the consideration of different life-course domains in academic studies on international student mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-523
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • academic motivation
  • partner
  • romantic relationship
  • student
  • student mobility


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