Published Oct 30, 2019

Le Kang  

Fulin Li

Yan Li


International student mobility has been becoming varied and complex. Chinese higher education institutions (HEIs) host about 492,185 international students in 2018, sharing 10 percent of globally mobile students. The purpose of the study was to promote understanding of factors that influence international students choose to earn academic degree in Chinese HEIs. The econometric approach was applied to identify factors that influence international student mobility in China. The total inflow of international students, the inflow of students from both developing and developed countries, and international students with undergraduate, master’s and doctoral academic programs are taken as predicted variables. The political, economic, academic, socio-cultural factors were chosen as explanatory variables. From the sample data of 60 countries of origin, our data covers more than 89% of total international students earn academic degrees in Chinese HEIs during the period 2007 to 2016. The results indicated some differences in determinants of undergraduate students, master’s students and doctoral students from developing and developed countries choose to study in China. The economic development level between China and the countries of origin and their bilateral trade relations are important economic factors that affect international students, and the impact on undergraduate students is more significant. The Chinese government scholarship policies and mutual recognition of academic degrees have been effectively promoted inward international students. Compared with undergraduate students, the academic ranking of Chinese universities has more significant influences on master’s students and doctoral students. The geographical distance and cultural distance between China and the countries of origin are important social and cultural factors. International students from developed countries are more influenced by cultural distance factor.


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International Student Mobility, Study in China, Determinants

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How to Cite
Kang, L., Li, F., & Li, Y. (2019). Identifying Factors that Influence International Student Mobility in Chinese Higher Education Institutions. Science Insights Education Frontiers, 4(1), 339-354. https://doi.org/10.15354/sief.19.ar107
Original Article