Under the tide of globalization, student internationalization has become the core of the higher education institutions’ development strategy. The OECD data suggest that in 2018, 5.0 million tertiary students are enrolled outside their country of citizenship. According to estimates, the number of international students will continue to grow at the current rate, reaching about 8 million by 2025.
The concept of “student-centered” undergraduate education regards students as important participants in educational reform and development. According to statistics, in 2018, the number of Chinese students studying abroad reached 662,100, accounting for a quarter of the global total. In the same year, 492,200 international students went to China to continue their studies. China has become the world’s largest exporter of foreign students and the largest recipient of foreign students in Asia. As the main force of international mobility, the internationalization of Chinese undergraduates has become an important part of higher education internationalization, which includes the internationalization of student source, vision and graduation destination. All of the elements above can be realized through the international mobility of students, that is, students’ cross-border exchange, course learning and international study.
This study attempts to explore the following questions: what is the development status of Chinese undergraduate students international mobility? What factors affect the mobility? To solve the problems, the study sketches a two-dimensional framework and examines its utility to understand the influential factors of Chinese undergraduates’ international mobility. The empirical part of the study is based on “China higher education internationalization development survey” collected by the Ministry of Education and China Education International Exchange Association from 2016 to 2018, hoping to provide empirical support for the decision-making and practice of Chinese undergraduate colleges to promote international students mobility.
The survey scope involves 782 undergraduate colleges and universities located in 31 provinces, cities or autonomous regions across China, with 699 valid samples accounting for 89.40%. During the survey period, the average number of undergraduates students studying abroad increased year by year, from 314 students to 367 students per year, but the proportion of students studying abroad is always less than 1.5%, which is only equal to the proportion of American students studying abroad for credit. In contrast, the total number of international students coming to China each year is about 20% more than the number of overseas students, and the distribution area is more concentrated.
In order to make further research on influential factors, this study builds the “double guarantee – double support” theoretical model and applies the multiple logit linear regression model, examining the guaranteeing role of strategic system and funds of higher education institutions and the supporting role of internationalization of teachers and courses in undergraduates’ internat ional mobility. It is found that (1) Funds will have a significant positive impact on students’ outward mobility (including graduates studying abroad, studying credits abroad, short-term outbound, attending conferences and competitions abroad). (2) For students’ inward mobility (including studying in China, participating in summer schools, etc.), the strategic system doesn’t have significant impact on foreign students’ participation in summer courses and other exchange activities. (3) Students’ international mobility has regional and university-level preferences. Higher education institutions located in the eastern coastal areas of China with “985” project and “211”project have a larger international mobility of students. The robustness of the above research results is tested.
Through the research, it can be concluded that scientific and reasonable strategic system, adequate funds and a higher degree of teachers and courses internationalization have a positive impact on promoting Chinese undergraduates international mobility and enhancing the level of higher education institutions internationalization.
Aiai Fan, Ph.D of Management, Editor, Peking University Education Review.
Chuxuan Ji, Research Assistant, China Institute of Educational Finance, Peking University.
Jinxi Xu, Postgraduate (Master) of Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, Peking University.
Yilin Chai, Postgraduate (Master) of Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, Peking University.