Advertisement

Higher Education

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 563–579 | Cite as

Why and how international students choose Mainland China as a higher education study abroad destination

  • M. A. JianiEmail author
Article

Abstract

In terms of international student mobility, although Mainland China is commonly perceived as a major “sending” nation of international students, it is often overlooked as an important “receiving” nation of international students. Despite its tremendous leap to the third top destination choice of international students, existing research on the motivation and decision-making process of international students who choose to study in Mainland China is minimal. In order to address this gap in the literature, this study seeks to explain why and how 42 international students chose Mainland China as their study abroad destination. A synthesis model consisting of a three-stage process—motivation to study abroad/in China, the city/institution search and selection, the evaluation of the programme—is proposed to explain their decision-making process. Findings reveal that China’s future development prospects distinctively attract students to choose China as their study abroad destination. This research also discusses the growing number of descendants of Chinese migrants who wish to return to their place of origin, China, for higher education in search of their cultural identity. Implications highlight the need for Mainland China government to ensure high-quality education to continue attracting an increasing number of talented students from around the world. Suggestions for future research are also provided.

Keywords

International students Mainland China Study abroad Decision-making process 

References

  1. Altbach, P. G. (1998). Comparative higher education: Knowledge, the university, and development. Greenwich, Conn.: Ablex Pub. Corp.Google Scholar
  2. Altbach, P. G. (2004). Higher education crosses borders: Can the United States remain the top destination for foreign students? Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 36(2), 18–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bamber, M. (2014). What motivates Chinese women to study in the UK and how do they perceive their experience? Higher Education, 68(1), 47–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cantwell, B., Luca, S. G., & Lee, J. J. (2009). Exploring the orientations of international students in Mexico: Differences by region of origin. Higher Education, 57(3), 335–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, L. H. (2007). Choosing Canadian graduate schools from afar: East Asian students’ perspectives. Higher Education, 54(5), 759–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, T. M., & Barnett, G. A. (2000). Research on international student flows from a macro perspective: A network analysis of 1985, 1989 and 1995. Higher Education, 39(4), 435–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheng, J. F., & Huang, M. X. (2008). Issues on periodisation of foreign student education history in China. China Higher Education Research, 12, 19–22.Google Scholar
  8. China State Council. (2015). Overall plan for coordinately advancing the construction of world first-class universities and first-class disciplines. Retrieved from http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2015-11/05/content_10269.htm.
  9. Fang, B. (2015). On changing trends of China’s education of ASEAN students in the past 15 years—an analysis of the related statistical data of 1999–2013. Comparative Education Review, 310, 77–86.Google Scholar
  10. Huang, F. (2015). Building the world-class research universities: A case study of China. Higher Education, 70(3), 203–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Institute of International Education. (2015a). Open Doors Report 2015. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors.
  12. Institute of International Education. (2015b). New 2015 Project Atlas Trends and Global Data Factsheet. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Project-Atlas.
  13. Jon, J. E., Lee, J. J., & Byun, K. (2014). The emergence of a regional hub: Comparing international student choices and experiences in South Korea. Higher Education, 67(5), 691–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kondakci, Y. (2011). Student mobility reviewed: Attraction and satisfaction of international students in Turkey. Higher Education, 62(5), 573–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lane-Toomey, C. K., & Lane, S. R. (2012). U.S. students study abroad in the middle East/North Africa: Factors influencing growing numbers. Journal of Studies in International Education, 17(4), 308–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lee, J. J., & Sehoole, C. (2015). Regional, continental, and global mobility to an emerging economy: The case of South Africa. Higher Education, 70(5), 827–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li, T. (2000). Chinese studying abroad education history (after 1949). Beijing: Higher Education Press.Google Scholar
  18. Li, M., & Bray, M. (2007). Cross-border flows of students for higher education: Push–pull factors and motivations of Mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong and Macau. Higher Education, 53(6), 791–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marginson, S. (2011). Higher education in East Asia and Singapore: Rise of the Confucian model. Higher Education, 61(5), 587–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mazzarol, T. (1998). Critical success factors for international education marketing. International Journal of Educational Management, 12(4), 163–175.Google Scholar
  21. Mazzarol, T., & Soutar, G. N. (2002). “Push–pull” factors influencing international student destination choice. International Journal of Educational Management, 16(2), 82–90.Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of Education. (2012). Plan for Study in China. Retrieved from http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/s6811/201209/141518.html.
  23. Ministry of Education. (2014). Xi Jinping gave important instructions at national wok meeting on studying abroad. Retrieved from http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_838/201412/181536.html.
  24. Ministry of Education (2016). National statistics for international students studying in China in 2015. Retrieved from http://moe.edu.cn/jyb_xwfb/gzdt_gzdt/s5987/201604/t20160414_238263.html.
  25. Song, H. S., & Liu, L. (2014). Why do foreign students choose to study in China: an Empirical study based on the gravity model. Journal of Higher Education, 35(11), 31–38.Google Scholar
  26. Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  27. Wei, H. (2013). An empirical study on the determinants of international student mobility: A global perspective. Higher Education, 66(1), 105–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yang, L. L. (2016). Reasons for American John to come to China: A narrative study. Education Research Monthly, 2, 74–81.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Development and Public PolicyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations