Trends in participation and attainment of Chinese students in UK higher education

C. Iannelli, Jun Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The UK higher education system receives the second largest number of Chinese overseas students in the world. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data used in this study show that the total number of Chinese graduates (at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels) increased from around 6000 at the beginning of the twenty-first century to more than 20,000 in 2009. This paper addresses the issues of whether and how patterns of participation and attainment of Chinese graduates have changed over the last decade. The findings show that (1) increasing proportions of Chinese students graduate from the Russell Group universities; (2) alongside subjects such as science, engineering and business, a growing popularity of social science among Chinese students is emerging; (3) compared to home students and other international students, Chinese first-degree graduates persistently achieve lower attainment levels. The conclusions highlight possible explanations for these patterns and directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date16 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Chinese graduates
  • trends
  • student's choices
  • UK higher education
  • HESA data


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