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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

BACKGROUND : A country's ability to become a prominent knowledge economy is tied closely to its ability to acquire skilled people who can compete internationally while resolving challenges of the future. To equip students with competence that can only by gained by being immersed in a foreign environment, outbound mobility is vital.

METHODS : To analyze outbound student mobility in Taiwan using time series methods, this study aims to propose a hybrid approach FSDESVR which combines feature selection (FS) and support vector regression (SVR) with differential evolution (DE). FS and a DE algorithm were used for selecting reliable input features and determining the optimal initial parameters of SVR, respectively, to achieve high forecast accuracy.

RESULTS : The proposed approach was examined using a dataset of outbound Taiwanese student mobility to ten countries between 1998 and 2018. Without the requirements of any special conditions for the proprieties of the objective function and constraints, the FSDESVR model retained the advantage of FS, SVR, and DE. A comparison of the FSDESVR model and other forecasting models revealed that FSDESVR provided the lowest mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) and root mean square error (RMSE) results for all the analyzed nations. The experimental results indicate that FSDESVR achieved higher forecasting accuracy than the compared models from the literature.

CONCLUSION : With the recognition of outbound values, key findings of Taiwanese outbound student mobility, and accurate application of the FSDESVR model, education administration units are exposed to a more in-depth view of future student mobility, which enables the implement of a more accurate education curriculum.

Yang Stephanie, Chen Hsueh-Chih, Chen Wen-Ching, Yang Cheng-Hong