What motivates Chinese students to study in the UK? A fresh perspective through a ‘small-lens’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Chinese students represent a substantial portion of the UK university student population, with most of them being postgraduates. However, whilst the UK remains a top choice for Chinese students seeking to complete a higher degree programme, competition within the global Higher Education (HE) landscape is intensifying. Consequently, popular HE destinations such as the USA and the UK must now contend with growing academic markets in Australia and New Zealand (Marginson, 2006) as well as some non-English speaking countries which offer appealing university degrees through English-Medium-Instruction (EMI) (Mok, 2007). It is therefore salutary to ensure that Chinese students continue to find the UK appealing. This is vitally important both for the economy and the intellectual diversity and talents these students bring to UK HE institutions. This study thus revisits the core motives which drive Chinese students to UK universities. Significantly, unlike other investigations which have treated the topic of motivation rather marginally and through broad research scopes, this paper uses a ‘small-lens approach’ (Ushioda, 2016), which here is operationalised through the combination of practitioner research and narrative analysis. The study therefore focuses on a small group (N = 16) of Chinese students to unpack the nuances of meaning which characterise their initial motivation to study in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalHigher Education
Early online date3 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Chinese students
  • UK universities
  • motivation
  • internationalisation


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