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Why do Chinese international students attend the University of British Columbia : push and pull factors Jiang, Qiu Qiong 2014

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WHY DO CHINESE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTSATTEND THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: PUSH AND PULL FACTORSbyQiu Qiong JiangB.A., the University of Fraser Valley, 2009A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENTOF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinThe Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies(Adult Education)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA(Vancouver)April, 2014© Qiu Qiong Jiang, 2014iiAbstractGlobalization is regarded as the context and facilitating force for the increasingly enhancedinternationalization of higher education around the world. As a response to globalization, theinternationalization of higher education takes places in various forms and practices in differentcountries. In contemporary era, international student mobility is by far the main form of cross-border education in the world. In existing relevant literature, the push and pull model isemployed by many researchers as the theoretical framework to investigate the motives ofinternational students, the host countries and higher education institutions.There are approximately three million international students studying outside of their homecountries (IEE, 2010). China has become the largest source country of international studentsamong these three-million international students. Most of the study-abroad Chinese studentsfrom mainland China went to pursue overseas higher education after 1999 when the Chinesegovernment began to enforce the university expansion policy in mainland China. However, fewresearchers gave attention to this unprecedented out-going heat among Chinese students in thepast decade.The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors inspiring a large number of Chinesestudents to study abroad after the 1999 reform in the Chinese higher education sector. The pushand pull model was employed as the theoretical framework in this study. A semi-structure one-on-one interview was used as the research method to collect inquired information. Nine Chineseinternational students who are currently studying at the University of British Columbia wererecruited as the research participants. The research results show that there are both shared andindividual motives inspiring these nine students to decide on undertaking overseas highereducation based on their personal academic, economic and social background.iiiPrefaceThis dissertation is an original intellectual product of Qiu Qiong Jiang. The research wasapproved by the Research Ethics Board Certificate number H11-01334.ivTable of ContentsAbstract ………………...................................................................................................................iiPreface…………………………...................................................................................................iiiTable of Contents...........................................................................................................................ivList of Tables ..................................................................................................................................vList of Figures ................................................................................................................................viAcknowledgements ................................................................................................................... ...viiDedication ………………………………………………………………………………………viiiChapter 1 Background and Purpose ...……………….................................................................... 1Chapter 2 Review of Related Literature................................................................14Chapter 3 Methodology……………….................................................................51Chapter 4 Results .................................................................................................70Chapter 5 Discussion and Conclusion ..................................................................................100References ............................................................................................................119Appendices ............................................................................................................128Appendix 1: Interview Guide ............................................................................................128Appendix 2: Letter for the Third Party Recruitment.............................................129Appendix 3: Introductory Letter for Perspective Research Subjects………................130Appendix 4: Consent Form for Research Subjects……………………………...................132vList of TablesTable 1 Types of Cross-Border Education Activities …...........................................................17Table 2 Attribution of Main Motives of International Supply of Education Services …...21Table 3 Enrollments of Students in Regular HEIS and Adult HEIS (1999 to 2008) ..........38Table 4 Personal Background of Nine Interviewees ………………………………………..63Table 5 Shared and Personal Motives of Two Students ……………………………………71Table 6 Shared and Personal Motives of Six Students ……………………………………..72Table 7 One Student’s motives …………………………………………………………….......73Table 8 Types of Information Sources ……………………………………………………....... 90Table 9 Push and Pull Factor for Students and Their Families....................................95viList of FiguresFigure 1 Study Destinations for International Students at the Post-Secondary Level .................19Figure 2 The Totals of Study-Abroad Students vs. the Totals of Self-Financed Students (1999-2009) ........................................................................................................................................... 26Figure 3 Distribution of Study-Abroad Chinese Students (2009)..............................................26Figure 4 Economic Regions of China Established in 1980s ………………………………….29Figure 5 The Social Class Structure in Contemporary China ………………………………...30Figure 6 Departments/Organizations under the Ministry of Education of China for WorkRelated to Study-Abroad Activities …………………………………………………………….42Figure 7 The Numbers of Returnees Percentage (2003-2009) ....................………………….. 47Figure 8 The Increase Rate of the Numbers of Returnees (2003-2009) ………………………48Figure 9 Nice Interviewees’ Parents’ Occupations ………………………………………........81Figure 10 Desired Host Countries of Nine Interviewees…………………………………….....97viiAcknowledgmentsFirst of all, I want to give my sincerest thanks to my supervisor Dr. Kjell Rubenson. Duringmy writing process of this thesis, whenever I needed guidance, Dr. Rubenson always tried hisbest to assist me in overcoming the difficulties and problems that hindered me from finishingwriting this thesis. I can’t imagine how I could finish my thesis without his help. I am verygrateful to my supervisory committee members Dr. Mazawi and Dr. Walter. They gave medetailed advice on revising the draft of my thesis. Because of their detailed advice, I becameclearer about how to further improve my thesis. I also want to give my appreciation to Dr.Schuetze who was invited to be my external examiner for his valuable feedback on conductingthe last revision. I feel so lucky to have these four professors lead me to through the wholewriting and defending process.I met Salima Vastani in the first course after I began my studies in the Adult Educationprogram in EDST. Since then, we became good friends in Vancouver. I appreciate her spendinga long time helping me edit my thesis. Lastly, I want to thank my family members Feng andLingyu and other close friends for their consistent support, encouragement and understandingduring my study at the University of British Columbia.viiiThis study is dedicated to the Chinese international students studying at the University ofBritish Columbia.1Chapter 1 Background and PurposeIntroductionInstitution of International Education (IIE) reports that approximately three millioninternational students are studying outside of their countries of origin (IEE, 2010). According tothe statistics of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2004), China,India, Japan and Korea are the four top sending countries of international students. As the mostvisible form of cross-border education, international student academic mobility is thought of asan unavoidable result of globalization in current relevant literature (Knight, 2003). Globalizationis perceived as the background and facilitating force for the internationalization of highereducation around the world. Altbach and Knight (2007) claim that the international activities ofuniversities have been greatly enhanced and expanded in “volume, scope and complexity” in thepast two decades. Due to a variety of impetus, higher education institutions have been pushed bythe globalized “economic, political and societal forces” to engage in more internationalinvolvement (Altbach and Knight, 2007, p.291).However, although globalization and internationalization are understood in existingliterature as two closely related terms, they should not be understood as the same thing (Altbach,2007). Internationalization literally means the inter-national relationship across borders betweennations or individual institutions located in different national systems. Although the2interconnection between two single nations is enhanced, each nation continues to function as a“bounded economic, social and cultural system” (Van der Wende, 2010, p.541). Globalizationencourages the free flow of knowledge, people and industrial products amongst different nationsand emphasizes an increasing interdependence between different economics and societies (Vander Wende, 2007, p.5).Scott (1998) states that although not each university is internationalized, the process ofglobalization has significant impact on the development of higher learning institutions across theglobe (Scott, 1998, as cited in Van der Wende, 2010, p.541).Even though globalization is the unalterable environment for higher education systemsand institutions, Van der Wende (2010) argues that globalization is not a united phenomenon,instead different nations have different responses and agendas to the transformation broughtabout by globalization. As a response to globalization, the internationalization of highereducation also takes place in various forms and practices in different countries becauseinternationalization is still strategized and controlled by different nations’ governments (Van derWende, 2010, p.541). Altbach and Knight (2007) contend that there are various stimuli for bothnations and academic institutions to conduct specific “practices and policies” in order to copewith globalization (p.291).3Current literature mentions that because higher education has been regarded as a privategood, not a public good in contemporary era, it has been regarded as an imported or exportedcommodity that is encouraged to be freely traded in a globalized education market. As per theprovisions in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) under the World TradeOrganization (WTO), education is referred as a trade in service. This reflects the trend ofinternationalization of higher education (OECD, 2004; Knight, 1999). )Since higher education is being traded as a commodity in a globalized market, anintegrated international education market has been shaped for students and internationaleducation providers. The major receiving countries of international students, mostly in thedeveloped OECD countries, have been making great efforts into strengthening theircompetitiveness in the global international education market for increasing their enrollments ofinternational students.The internationalization of higher education is believed by many scholars to be driven byboth financial and non-financial motivations (Altbach and Knight, 2007; Haigh, 2008; Van deWende, 2010). In the perspective of economic factors, making profits from internationalstudents’ study costs and other expenditure in their host countries is the key motive for theinternationalization of the for-profit higher education sector. As to the non-financial benefits,traditional non-profit higher learning institutions aim to enhance their “research and knowledge4capacity and mutual cultural understanding” by the way of granting study access to talentedoverseas students (Altbach and Knight, 2007, p.292; Haigh, 2008, p.427). However, Van deWende (2010) claims that despite differed focuses and priorities across different types ofinstitutions and nations, the economic rationales have become a more dominant factor for theinternationalization of higher education in the past decade (p.541). His observation andconclusions were supported by Heigh, Altbach and Knight in their relevant writings (Altbach andKnight, 2007; Heigh, 2008)Although globalization facilitates free flow of knowledge, products and human capitalamongst different countries, Altbach and Knight (2007) state that globalization intends toconcentrate more “wealth, knowledge and power” in those already developed Northern countries,and international student mobility also favors these well-developed countries (p.292). Therefore,the direction of international student flow still appears to follow a pattern—from South to Northor from less developed countries to more advanced countries, especially the scientifically andtechnologically developed OECD countries (Altbach,1998, 2004 and Altbach and Knight, 2007).International student migration is examined as a complex phenomenon in existingliterature since an individual student’ s decision on pursuing overseas higher education isaffected by various factors (Altbach, 1998; Mazzarol and Soutar, 2002). Researchers looked atthe global flow of international students from the perspective of students’ characteristics, internal5motivations and expectations and external push and pull forces for them (Altbach, 1998;Mazzarol and Soutar, 2002; Chen, 2007; and Bodycott, 2009).Mazzarol and Soutar (2002) define push factors as the forces that operate within thesource country and initiate a student’s decision to undertake international study. On the contrary,pull factors work within the host country and make that country more attractive to internationalstudents compared with other countries (p.82). Altbach (1999) states that push and pull factorscover economic, political, ideological and educational aspects that affect students’ decisions ofstudying abroad and final study destinations. This pull and push model has been adopted bymany researchers and scholars as the theoretical framework for understanding internationalstudent mobility.In accordance with different researchers’ analysis, international students are inspired byboth shared and differentiated determinants based on their economic, societal and culturalbackgrounds when choosing to undertake overseas higher education (Altbach, 1998, 2004;Mazzarol and Soutar, 2002). Moreover, even for the members belonging to the same group ofinternational students, individual students respond differently to external influential factors basedon the student’s own characteristics and background (Bodycott, 2009).6Chinese Students’ Academic MigrationOut of three million international students around the world, China has become thelargest source country (IIE, 2010). Different researchers claim that the unmet demand of highereducation in mainland China is a crucial factor motivating many Chinese students to seek accessto overseas higher education. However, they fail to throw light on the fact that the grossenrollment rate of Chinese higher education institutions has been tremendously increased due tothe university expansion policy that has been implemented in mainland China by the Chinesegovernment since 1999.It is stated by different Chinese and Western scholars that the higher education system inmainland China has made “a great leap forward” since 1999 (Bai, 2006, p.3; Wen, 2004; Li andXing, 2010, p.4; Li and Xing, 2010, p.4). The sizes of public higher education institutions havebeen dramatically expanded to meet the huge demand for higher education in mainland China.There were 1022 tertiary-level institutions in mainland China in 1998. Until, there are over 2500public higher education institutions that include regular and adult post-secondary institutionsuntil April, 2012 (ScienceNet Website, 2012). In 2005, the number of new college students wasover five million that is 4.7 times of that in 1998 (Li and Xing, 2010, p.7).In addition, the private higher education sector including the foreign-Sino co-sponsoredprograms, franchised programs and branch campuses of overseas post-secondary institutions7have grown rapidly to recruit more students in tertiary level education in mainland China in thepast two decades. There were over 1,700 private post-secondary institutions that account for 10%of the total post-secondary enrollments in 2006 (Zeng and Weng, 2007, p.1).Although it is still comparatively competitive for China’s high school students to secure aseat in domestic higher learning institutions, they have obtained much more access to achieve apost-secondary education in their home land. The official statistics show that the grossrecruitment rate of high school graduates has doubled from 10.5% in 1999 to 24.2% in 2009(Ministry of Education of China, 2010). Using Trow’s definition of mass higher education, manyresearchers believe that the scale of higher education in mainland China has transformed from anelite education to mass higher education since the enrollment rate has been more than 20% of theage group (Trow, 1972). Based on the fact that there were over 20 million in-college students in2006, it is believed that China has developed the largest higher education system in the world(Bai, 2006; Li and Xing, 2010).The university expansion policy was enforced to largely broaden access to highereducation for Chinese high school graduates, but the equality and social justice in opportunitiesto higher education for Chinese students have been questioned by various researchers (Bai, 2006;Jacob, 2006; Li and Xing, 2010; Yao, 2010; Ding and Liang, 2012). Ding and Liang (2012)claim that when considering the type and quality of higher education that are accessible for8students belonging to different social-economic classes, geographic locations, ethnic groups andgender group, “qualitative disparity is a more profound index for measuring the equitable natureof China’s education system” (p.26). As a result of reform and transformation of China’s highereducation system since the late 1980s, there are distinct quality disparities among differenthigher education institutions within a stratified higher education system (Li and Xing, 2010;, 2010; Ding and Liang, 2012).The Chinese central government launched 985 Project (this title refers to the year andmonth in which it was announced)and 211 Project (this name refers to 100 research-intensiveuniversities in the 21 century)in public institutions with the goal of establishing ten to twelveworld-class universities and 100 research-intensive national universities in the 21century.Therefore, 985 and 211 universities are established as the elite or key universities in China andgiven much more funding from the central government (Bai, 2006, p.139; Yao, 2010.p.839).These universities are on the top level of the national higher education system. The other regularfour-year universities are under the administration and financial support of either the provincialor municipal governments. These universities are looked upon as middle-level institutions. At thebottom level are the two or three year technical and vocational colleges. Despite the rapiddevelopment in the past two decades, private tertiary institutions are still at the low end inChina’s higher education sector.9Different Chinese and Western scholars argue that the students who are raised in richfamilies in urban areas and reside in the more developed Eastern part of China have morechoices of higher education available to them after the implementation of the universityexpansion policy. Since 1997, each college student is required to pay tuition fees to attend highereducation institutions. The expenditure of each college student per year is around 10,000 RMB in2008. The net per capita incomes in urban and rural areas were 9,422 RMB and 2,936 RMBrespectively. It costs 4.2 and 13.6 years of net income for an average urban and rural individualrespectively to support a student’s 4-year higher education (Yuan, 2008; as cited in Li and Xing,2010, p.5).Thus, this increased the possibility for students whose families have more social andeconomic capital to study in the universities (Jacob, 2006; Wang, 2009; Bai, 2006; Li and Xing,2010;Yao, 2010;Ding and Liang, 2012). However, this reduced the possibility for studentsfrom the lower social class and rural areas in less developed Central and Western regions to haveaccess to higher education. Therefore, the effect of the university expansion policy on theopportunities available to students coming from different regions and social groups has become arising topic of study for concerned researchers and scholars.On the other hand, despite the huge expansion of the Chinese higher education sector, thelast decade saw an unprecedented demand for overseas higher education among Chinese students10in mainland China (Ministry of Education of China, 2010). The number of Chinese internationalstudents accounts for almost 50% of the total number of international students around the world(Altbach and Bassett, 2004, p.30). The statistics from the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Chinashows that 1.62 million Chinese students in mainland China went to study in more than 100foreign countries and regions from 1978 to 2009. However, approximately 1.32 million studentsundertook overseas higher education between 1999 and 2009. This is the period of time after theuniversity expansion policy was implemented by the Chinese government in mainland China(MOE, 2010). Among the study-abroad students, over 90% are self-financed students.Furthermore, it is claimed by the Ministry of Education that this outgoing heat among Chinesestudents in mainland China will be a persistent phenomenon in the following years due to theChinese government’s policies to support Chinese nationals to study broad (MOE, 2010).The purpose of this study and research questionsIn exploring the factors motivating many Chinese students in mainland China to obtainoverseas higher education, many researchers employed the push and pull theory to find out thestimulating factors for their choices. Although a variety of motivations and anticipation ofChinese students are presented in the following review of literature, I found that few researchersgave more attention to the correlation between the dramatically increased number of study-abroad Chinese students after 1999 and the effect of the university expansion policy on their11choices of higher education. In this study, I aimed to find that how the Chinese government’srelevant policies and other factors affected their choices and how the push and pull model canexplain different factors that influenced them to study abroad in the last decade. Therefore, mystudy was to find out facts to answer the following three research questions:1) What are the major motivating factors for mainland Chinese students to undertakeoverseas higher education?2) What role did the Chinese government’s policies on overseas study play in Chinesestudents’ decisions to go to study at the University of British Columbia (UBC).3) How well the push and pull theory can be adopted to explain the going-abroad heatamong Chinese students studying at the University of British Columbia?Significance of This StudyI believe there are different issues involved in the rapid rise in the number of Chinesestudents studying abroad in the past decade. But, first of all I decided to conduct a study thatfocuses on finding how the study-abroad Chinese students reason their decisions of pursuingoverseas higher education. I aim to present this study’s results to interested policy makers,academe and professionals in the higher education sector in both China and the main receivingcountries of Chinese international students so as to expand current knowledge and understanding12of motivation and expectation of Chinese students in relation to their overseas higher educationexperience.Structure of This ThesisIn order to explore the stimulating factors for the study-abroad Chinese students comingfrom mainland China, this thesis constitutes five chapters. The current chapter provides a broadbackground for understanding internationalization of higher education, international studentmobility and the Chinese students’ study-abroad activities in the past decade. Chapter 2 isorganized into two sections. In the first section, it presents how related arguments and findingsexplain the worldwide international student mobility and how the push and pull model wasemployed as the theoretical framework in relevant literature to find out the motivating factors forthe worldwide internationalization of higher education. In the second section, it focuses onshowing previous exploration and research results concerning about the increasing academicmigration of Chinese students into developed Western countries. It introduces the motivationalfactors and expectations of study-abroad Chinese students, the facilitating policies and strategiesfrom the Chinese government and emerged concerns and issues resulting from the study-abroadheat among Chinese students in current literature. Also, this chapter reviews existing relatedliterature that helped develop and refine research questions in this study.13Chapter 3 presents the reasons why the researcher decided on choosing semi-structuredone-on-one interview as her research method and snowball sampling as the sampling method forrecruiting research participants at the University of British Columbia in this study. Then, thedetailed procedure of data collection and data interpretation approaches is stated. At the end ofthis chapter, the research ethical concerns and conduct in this study are presented. Chapter 4examines the research findings: the shared and different factors that stimulated nine researchparticipants to choose to study abroad by employing Kvale’s suggested analysis andinterpretation approaches of interview data for qualitative researchers (Kvale, 1996).In the last chapter Discussion and Conclusion, nine research participants’ academic andfamily backgrounds and social economic status are discussed in detail so as to help readers ofthis thesis understand how individual students made their decisions on seeking an overseashigher education. In the section Conclusion, the key research findings are reviewed again. Thelimitation of this study is mentioned as a self-reflection of this study by the researcher in thissection as well. At the end of this thesis, the researcher presents her future research interests thatare brought about by this study.14Chapter 2 Review of Related LiteratureIntroductionThe review of related literature in this study is an examination of and reflection on thearguments and research findings in these writings. Internationalization of higher education,international students, Chinese international students, university expansion policy in China andhigher education system and reforms of China are used as the main key words to search forrelevant research papers and published books in several academic research databases on thelibrary website of the University of British Columbia. The websites of the Ministry of Educationof China and its affiliated government departments were referred to obtain the official statistics,government policies, regulations and other documents relating to Chinese students’ overseashigher education.By doing research on both online and written literature exploring internationalization ofhigher education and international student mobility, I realized that the largely increased Chinesestudents’ academic migration to their desired overseas countries in the past decade should not beexamined as an individual phenomenon. Instead, this phenomenon should be explored in a largerbackground and context that results in worldwide international student academic migration.Therefore, this literature review is divided into two sections: the first section writes about currentissues of internationalization of higher education and the motives for international students to15conduct overseas academic migration; the second section concentrates on analyzing the factorsthat inspire Chinese students in mainland China to seek overseas higher education.I found that the push and pull model is widely used in previous studies as their theoreticalframework for analyzing the factors stimulating worldwide international student mobility and thestudy-abroad heat among Chinese students in mainland China as well. Therefore, the push andpull model is also employed as the theoretical framework in this study.The Internationalization of Higher EducationCross-border education.As the arguments in previous literature, globalization is regarded as a facilitating forcefor bringing about the worldwide internationalization of higher education. Knight (1999) arguesthat globalization is the free flow of knowledge, information, technology, people, values andideas across geographically based borders. Van der Wende (2010) believes that in the globalizedworld, different nations become more interconnected and interdependent (p.541).Internationalization of higher education is one of the ways that a nation responds to the impact ofglobalization (Knight, 1999).There is not an all-encompassing definition of the internalization in the higher educationsector in relevant literature. According to Knight, the internationalization of higher education isthe process of integrating both an international and intercultural dimension into the teaching,16research and service functions of higher learning institutions (Knight 1999, p.16). Making aconclusion of existing points of view in current literature, Yang (2002) claims that theinternationalization of higher education refers to specific internationalized activities or programsconducted by the worldwide higher education institutions in relevant literature ( p.72). Theseinternationalized activities can be categorized into academic and extra-curricular activities thatinclude student, scholar and faculty exchange and flow, cross-border technical assistance andquality assurance systems, education of international students, intercultural communication andtraining and so forth.When explaining the characteristics of the internationalization of higher educationinstitutions, Knight (1999) contends that one dimension of internationalization is purely domestic,which refers to help students develop international and intercultural awareness and skills withoutleaving their home countries, which is defined as “international at home” (Knight, 2003a). Cross-border education is the other dimension of internationalization, which is defined as “situationwhere the teacher, student, program, institution/provider or course materials cross nationaljurisdictional borders”. Cross-border education takes three different forms based on “who’ and“what” cross the border (Knight, 2003b, as cited in OECD, 2004, p.19):People mobility: A person who goes abroad for educational purposesProgram mobility: an educational program that crosses borders17Institution mobility: an institution or providers who go or invest abroad for educationalpurposesCross-border education delivery through these three forms can be conducted by differentactivities and arrangements based on “who” provides the cross-border education and “who”attends this type of education experiences:Table 1 Types of Cross-border Education ActivitiesType Main Forms Examples Size1. PeopleStudents/trainees *Student mobility -full study abroad for a foreigndegree of qualification-part of academic partnership forhome degree or joint degree-exchange programmes*Probably the largest share of cross-border educationProfessors/trainers Academic/trainermobility-for professional development-as part of an academicpartnership-employment in a foreignuniversity-to teach in a branch institutionabroadAn old tradition in the education sector,which should grow given the emphasis onmobility of professionals and theinternationalization of education moregenerally2. ProgramsEducational programs Academic partnershipsE-learning-joint course or program with aforeign institution-E-learning programs-Selling/franchising a course to aforeign institutionAcademic partnerships represent the largestshare of these activitiesE-learning and franchising are small butrapidly growing activities3. Institutions/providersForeign campusesForeign investments-opening of a foreign campus-buying (part of) a foreigneducational institution-creation of an educationalprovider abroadA trend increasing very quickly from amodest starting pointSource: Adopted from OECD (2004). Cross-border education: an overview. Internationalization and Trade inHigher Education: Opportunities and Challenges (p.20). Paris: OECD.18Although aforementioned three types of cross-border education have increased during thelast decade, international student mobility as one form of people mobility is by far the maincross-border education activity (OECD, 2004, p.1, 20-21).According to the statistics of OECD (2004), international student migration into OECDcountries doubled over the past twenty years. There were approximately two million studentsstudying outside their origin countries in 2003 and 93% of international students studied inOECD countries (Van der Wende, 2010, p.542). This number was increased to three million in2008. Altbach estimates that the total number of foreign students would reach over seven millionby 2025 (Altbach, 2004, p.19).The statistics of the Institute of International Education (IIE) shows that the top fivereceiving countries of international students were the United States, the United Kingdom,Germany, France and Australia in 2001. These five countries maintained their positions as thetop five host countries of international students in 2008 except France exceeded Germany tobecome the third biggest receiving country (IIE, 2001, 2008). Asia is the major sending region ofinternational students. Japan, South Korea, China and India are the four major Asian sourcecountries of international students in the past decade (OECD, 2004, p.11-12). Unsurprisingly,most of study-abroad Asian students studied in well-advanced OECD countries (OECD, 2004).(see Figure 1)19Figure 1 Study Destinations for International Students at the Post- Secondary (Tertiary) LevelSource: Adopted from Institution of International Education.(2010). Atlas of international student mobility: countryprofile. Retrieved from for international students and host countries and institutions.Altbach (1998) points out that the majority of international students come from thedeveloping and newly industrializing countries and study in advanced industrialized nations(1998, p.147; 2004, p.20). Among all international students, over 50% of them come from Chinaand South Korea (IIE, 2008). The phenomenon of the growing international student flow in thepast decade has been explored by the academe both in sending and receiving countries.Mazzarol and Soutar (2002) argue that an individual student’s decision-making processof pursuing overseas study usually goes through three stages: deciding to study abroad, choosinga study destination/a host country and finally selecting an institution (p.83). Chen (2007)20presents that some international students don’t follow the selection model of Mazzarol andSoutar (2002) in some situations: they may select a host institution before starting to choose ahost country (p.760). However, a student’s final decision on where to pursue overseas highereducation is definitely affected by his or her own characteristics, significant others and otherexternal pull (host countries) and push (home countries) factors (Chen, 2007, p.760). Thus, astudent responds differently to various influential factors in his or her decision procedure (Li andBray, 2007, p.794).A variety of push factors in the original countries of international students are discussedin existing literature: there are unmet demands for higher education due to the limited spaces indomestic higher education institutions. Therefore, many bright students found it easier to studyin good-quality foreign institutions compared with the more competitive entrance requirementsin their home countries; there is a lack of in-demand specializations or programs in domestichigher learning institutions, especially at the master’s or doctoral levels which are internationallycompetitive; foreign higher education credential also enhances a student’s competitiveness in thejob market, which further has positive effects on his or her future social and economic status;students have strong desires for experiencing foreign cultures, life styles and social environment.Domestic social and political situations are also among the main factors influencing some21students to study abroad: discriminatory admission policies for ethnic students and theunfavorable political circumstances and so forth (Altbach, 2004, p.21).Impacted by the economic globalization, the trade of goods, services and informationappears more important than ever (Tremblay, 2005, p.11). Correspondently, student mobility isone of the four modes of international supplies in education services in the General Agreementon Trade in Services (GATS) under the World Trade Organization (WTO) (OECD, 2004,p.35)(see Table 2). The Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) found that theeconomic rationale and international competition have taken on greater importance among a mixof rationales for the governments and higher education institutions of the host countries tosupport cross-border education in the past decade (OECD, 2004, p.223).Table 2 Attribution of the Main Modes of International Supply of Education ServicesMode Explanation Education Examples Correspondence With Types OfCross-border Education Means1. cross-border supply The services crosses theborder (does not requirethe physical movementof the consumer of theprovider)distance educationonline educationcommercialfranchising of acourseprogramme mobility2. *consumption abroad Consumer moves to thecountry of the supplierstudents who go toanother country tostudypeople (student) mobility3. commercial presence The service providerestablishes facilities inanother country toprovide the servicelocal university orsatellite campusesBranch campus,including jointventure with localinstitutionsinstitution mobility4. presence of natural persons Person travelling toanother country on atemporary basis toprovide the serviceprofessors, teachers,researchers workingtemporarily abroadpeople (academic) mobility22Source: The “Mode” and “Explanation” columns are based on the GATS classifications. Adopted from Center forEducational Research and Innovation (2004). Cross-border education: an overview. Internationalization and Tradein Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges (p.35). Paris: OECD.The rationales of the receiving countriesJiang (2008) argues that because of the increased commercialization andcommoditization of knowledge in today’s globalized economy, profit-making has become boththe major motive and the target that leads to the expanded trade of higher education around theworld (p. 348). International student flow has been regarded as a “big business” or an “industry”for the receiving countries, because international student migration brings about substantialeconomic benefits to the host countries (Altbach, 1998). The study costs of international studentsexpand the financial sources for the host countries to support their national higher educationsystems. Moreover, international students and their dependents also contribute to the domesticeconomy. The OECD countries generated a US$ 30 billion income from 1.6 million internationalstudent migrations in 2001(OECD, 2004). Association of International Educators (NAFSA)estimates that international students and their dependents contributed approximately US$ 117.9billion to the United States’ economy during the 2008-2009 academic year (NAFSA, 2010).From the perspective of human resources, another important beneficial effect of studentmigration to the host countries is that international student flow may develop into a potentialflow of qualified workers. Most OECD countries are facing an aging population and a low birth23rate, so they need more highly-educated migrants to work in sectors where there is a shortage ofa skilled workforce (Tremblay, 2005). Therefore, skilled migration is another feature of theinternationalization of higher education.In some top receiving countries of international students, such as France, Australia andCanada, internationalized policies have been combined with immigration regulations for foreigngraduates and academics (Van der Wende, 2010, p.541). These countries relaxed theirimmigration policies to allow qualified foreigners including their former international students tostay and work there by giving them temporary or permanent residence permits.From the late 1990s though, economic growth and growing concerns about agingpopulations in most OECD countries resulted in a worldwide competition for highlyskilled workers (especially in the science, technology, and health care sectors) that hassomewhat changed the overall picture. Immigration authorities have had to adapt to thechanging environment by amending their legislation to facilitate the entry of skilledworkers and in some cases, to offer foreign students easier access to work and /orresidence permits upon graduation (Tremblay, 2005, p.206).The favorable immigration policies for former international students in these hostcountries are attractive to some international students who choose their study destinations as “thefirst-step of a long-term deliberate strategy for subsequent migration into these countries”(Tremblay, 2005, p.205).24The rationales of the host higher education institutionThe competition among higher learning institutions in a worldwide scope has becometougher and contains a strong international dimension, which requires higher educationinstitutions to intensify their internationalization initiatives (OECD, 2004). Given the economicbenefits for higher education institutions in the host countries of international students,recruitment of foreign students is looked at by the institutions as an effective means forgenerating new revenue to relieve the financial stress caused by the declining funds from thegovernments (Tremblay, 2005).Although internationalization of higher education is driven by economic benefits,universities are still the central producers and carriers of new knowledge for their servedsocieties (Altbach, 1998). There are academic and cultural rationales for higher educationinstitutions to recruit international students. An increased intellectual and cultural exchange withinternational students is expected to play a positive role in institution-building. Theseexperiences help the institutions improve their teaching, research and management abilities(Jiang, 2008, p.380). Moreover, the native students studying with classmates from diversifiedcultures may enhance their abilities to adjust to other cultures that in turn will have a positiveeffect on their productivity and future career development in this increasingly globalized world(Tremblay, 2005, p.222).25Factors behind the Study-Abroad Heat among Chinese Students in Mainland ChinaPush and pull factors for Chinese students.If student mobility is the most significant mode of cross-border education, the out-goingheat among Chinese students in mainland China is without doubt a quite noticeable phenomenonin international student mobility around the world. Over one million Chinese students inmainland China went to study abroad between 1999 and 2009. Most of them studied abroad attheir own expense (MOE, 2009) (see Figure 2). The total number of study-abroad Chinesestudents consistently increased in the past decade except that there was a slight decrease in thenumbers of study-abroad students between 2003 and 2005. Chinese international students wentto study in over 100 countries and regions since 1978 when the reform and opening up policywas adopted by the Chinese Communist Party (see Figure 3). A majority of them chose to studyin several major receiving countries of international students: the United States, Australia, theGreat Britain, Japan, Canada, Korea (Chinese Students Study-Abroad Forum, 2010). Thestatistics ranking the distribution of Chinese overseas students around the world shows thatAmerica, Australia, the Great Britain, Korea, Japan, Canada are currently the top six hostcountries of Chinese students (MOE, 2010).26Figure 2 The Totals of Study-abroad Students vs. the Totals of Self-funded Students (1999-2009)Unit:1,000Source: statistics was adopted from the website of The Ministry of Education. Ren min jiao yu, dian ji zhong guo[People’s education, the base of China]. Retrieved October 9, 2009, from;Yu, Jihai. (2010, March). Xue shen kua go jie liu doing xian zhuan [Thecurrent situation of students’ cross-border mobility]. In Wang, Gong (Chair), Chinese Students Study-AbroadForum 2010. Forum conducted at the meeting of the Ministry of Education, Beijing, China. Retrieved Nov.2, 2010,from http://edu.sin The author added the date of 2009 to the originalfigure for 1999 to 2008 from the Ministry of Education.Figure 3 Distribution of Study-Abroad Chinese Students (2009)Source: Adopted from The Ministry of Education. (2009, Oct.10). Ren min jiao yu, dian ji zhong guo [People’seducation, the base of China]. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from edoas/website18/82/info125511167346182. htm27In order to explore the main factors motivating Chinese students to pursue overseashigher education, the push and pull model is also used in existing literature as the methodologicalframework. Students and parents, host countries and academic institutions are considered asthree groups of stakeholders in the increasing international student migration (Mazzarol andSoutar, 2002; Altbach, 1998, 2004, Chen, 2007 and Li and Bray, 2007). Based on previousresearch, the main pull factors for Chinese students going abroad for higher education are thefollowing: expanded and strengthened marketing and recruitment practices in the internationaleducation market, perceived better quality of overseas higher education, immigrationpossibilities after graduation, availability of scholarships for study, and favorable environmentalfactors such as desirable study environment, comfortable climate, a safe and multicultural socialcontext and so on.In order to explore the significant stimulating push factors for Chinese studentsundertaking overseas higher education, how the Chinese students obtain access to highereducation in domestic higher education system should be examined.In the context of a fast developing market economy, there is a higher demand for post-secondary education among ordinary Chinese people (Jacob, 2006). If not considering thestratification in the higher education sector in mainland China, the students as a whole havemany more chances to access higher education because of the implementation of the university28expansion policy since 1999. However, the university expansion policy does not diminish butbroaden inequality in access to higher education for students with different academic and socialeconomic backgrounds in current China (Bai, 2006; Wang 2009, Fleisher, Li and Li, 2010; Shiand Xing, 2010).According to existing relevant research, the reasons behind this widening gap in access tohigher education among different student populations are believed to be closely related todiversified factors: the uneven distribution of higher education resources in different regions,parents’ social and economic status, the rapidly increasing mandatory tuition fees since 1997 andthe quality disparities in pre-university education in urban and rural areas (Zhang and Liu,2006;Jacob, 2006;Wang, 2009;Yao, 2010;).Jacob (2006) contends that after the re-categorization of all provinces and cities in mainlandChina, three primary economic regions were formed since 1980s: the Eastern Coastal Region,the Central Developing Region, and the Western Under-developed Region (p.152) (see Figure 4).Yao (2010) contend that due to the unbalanced economic and social development, the keyuniversities including 985 and 211 universities are more concentrated in the East of China, bigcities and two municipalities (Beijing and Shanghai). Therefore, the students living in theEastern region benefit more from the increased availabilities of higher education resulting fromthe university expansion policy, but those residing in Central and students living in the Eastern29region benefit more from the increased availabilities of higher education resulting from theuniversity expansion policy, but those residing in Central and Western regions are stillmarginalized populations concerning access to higher education (Jacob, 2006; Wang, 2009).Figure 4 Economic Regions of China Established in 1980sSource: Adopted from Jacob, W. James (2006).Social justice in Chinese higher education: regional issues of equityand access. Review of Education, 52, pp.149-159.Although there is not an official recognition of a hierarchical social class structureexisting in current China, Wang (2009) claims that based on the occupational categorization andthe social, economic and cultural capital owned by people in different occupations, the Chinesesociologists divided Chinese population into upper, middle and lower class and estimated theproportion of each class in the total population (p.12) (see Figure 5). Li (2008) used the model of30East Asia Middle Class Project which is widely adopted for counting the population of middleclass in newly industrializing countries in the East Asian region. She claims that one third of theurban population in China in 2006 could be categorized into the middle class population (p.5).Thus, previous researchers contend that besides the regional disparity in higher educationresource distribution, the social class and urban/rural origin are other decisive factors influencinga student’s access to higher education.Figure 5 The Social Class Structure in Current Chinese SocietyUpper class (4.7%): Officials,Manager instate and private company, PrivateMiddle class (18.9%): Professional and technicalpersonnel,Clerk and related workers,IndividualbusinessesLower class (76.4%):Business service personnel,Industrial workers,Agriculturallaborers,Unemployed (exclude students)Source: Adopted from Wang, Weiyi (2006). Social class differences in access to higher education. Retrieved fromthe website of Teachers College of Columbia University, argue that the students from well-being families in urban areas have gained muchmore access to higher education than those from poor families both in urban and rural areas. The31reasons are related to students’ parents’ social class and economic abilities. Due to theiradvantageous social class and high income in Chinese society, these parents have sufficientfinancial abilities to pay for their children’s different choices of higher education. Therefore,these students have less financial constraints and more freedom in their choices of highereducation (Chen, 2006; Bai, 2006; Sanchez, Fornerino and Zhang, 2006; Sun, 2008 and Bodycott,2009).It is claimed by some researchers that there is a relationship between the family plan andthe differences in access to higher education among Chinese students in mainland China. Thecohort of university-aged students at the beginning of 21st century mainly consists of studentswho are the only child in their families as a result of the one-child policy in China. Therefore, itis more possible for their families to concentrate their savings on paying for these students’higher education (Li and Bray, 2007, p.796). Also, because the higher education degrees are stillbelieved to be the ladder for a young person to enter into the mainstream classes and groups inthe future, their parents are willing to invest in their higher education (Zhang and Liu, 2006,p.89).Public higher learning institutions used to be fully funded by different ministries anddifferent levels of government in China. Because the co-funding model was adopted by thecentral government in 1997, students and their parents now need to pay for their higher education.32However, the continuing raised tuition fees surpass the annual income of some poor familiesboth in urban and rural areas. Thus, the higher education expenditure becomes a huge obstaclefor students from impoverished families. As a result, some prospective poor students aredeprived of their higher education opportunities despite the broadened access to higher educationbrought about by the university expansion policy (Bai, 2006; Yao, 2010).Other researchers state that the factors taking root in Chinese culture heritage should notbe underestimated when we consider Chinese students’ longing for higher educationachievements. Schuetze (2008) states, “education has traditionally held a high cultural value inChina” (p.19). Furthermore, the Confucian philosophy of education and learning still has a far-reaching influence on current Chinese society. Confucius teaches that learning is the mosteffective means for a person’s self-cultivation and self-development in a lifelong journey (Li,2003, p.146). Confucian Master Mengzi said, “Keep learning as long as you live” represents thesame essential meaning shared by the 100 internationally famous sayings that have stronginfluence on Chinese young people’s lives (Zhang, 2008, p.553). From this cultural lens, parents,especially those with more educational accomplishments, have higher expectations for theirchildren’s education attainments (Zhang and Liu, 2006).Despite the above-mentioned factors resulting in disparities in access to higher educationfor students with different backgrounds and characteristics, Zhang and Liu (2006) point out that33there is systematic and structural inequality in access to higher education, and this “systematicand structural inequality” should be traced back to the inequality in pre-university educationaccessed by different student groups. Schuetze (2008) states that large quality discrepancies existboth between urban and rural schools and between key and regular public schools in China’scompulsory education subsector. The key urban schools in more affluent regions gain morefinancial resources to be equipped with better teachers and facilities. Also, the education qualityin these schools is much better than that in non-key schools that are usually under-resourced dueto less public funding allocation from the government. The quality of compulsory education willhave further influence on the quality of a student’s higher education.On the other hand, because of the limited quotas to study in those key primary andsecondary schools, some students have chosen to study in good-quality but more expensiveprivate (minban in Chinese) or foreign-Sino co-sponsored schools or programs. This alternativechoice is also regarded by the students’ parents as a means to avoid difficult college entranceexamination in the future. The students will still have opportunities to go to study in good-quality overseas higher learning institutions (Schuetze, 2008).On the other hand, due to the large number of university students graduating after1999,the unemployment of university graduates becomes a deep concern both for the Chinese societyand the government. Employment prospects of university graduates are closely related to the34quality of their higher education. Therefore, the Chinese students look at the quality of a higherlearning institution as the “basis of their choice of higher education” (Ding and Liang, 2012,p.30).Mainland Chinese students need to write the highly competitive entrance examination tosecure a seat in different types of higher learning institutions. In some situations, a bright studentmay not perform well in the entrance examination and fail to be enrolled in a good-qualityuniversity (Jacob, 2006). In other situations, some students may not be able to obtain enoughscores to attend higher education. Because of these reasons, these students may seek other waysaround the obstacles (p.796). Therefore, studying abroad becomes a second choice for someChinese students to undertake higher education (Ming, 2001, p.36).The role of international education agents in increasing Chinese student enrollmentWhen exploring the effects of different push and pull factors on Chinese students’ study-abroad activities, the role of international education agents who work as a “person, company ororganization” between the host institutions and Chinese students should not be ignored (Zhangand Hagedorn, 2010). Zhang and Hagedorn (2010) point out that although using an educationagent to increase international student enrollment has been a well-established practice indifferent parts of the world for a long time, this enrollment strategy has been growing rapidly inAsian countries in the past years (p.7). As one of the top source countries of international35students in the world, it has become common practice for students in China to use educationagents’ services to assist their applications to overseas institutions (p.15).The educational agents can provide students a variety of services: preparation of visaapplication materials and/or training for face to face interviews; preparation of collegeapplication materials; advice on choosing a right study destination and institution; contact withall necessary personnel at targeted institutions (Zhang and Hagedorn, 2010). According to thestatistics of the Ministry of Education of China, there are over 400 registered internationaleducation service companies in China (MOE, 2012). Until 2010, The American InternationalRecruitment Council had certified 24 overseas agencies to help recruit more internationalstudents to study in the United States. The reason is that the United States is facing seriousinternational student enrollment challenges from other major host countries including GreatBritain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (Inside Higher Ed website, 2012).Zhang and Hagedorn (2010) claim that professional and responsible agents can givestudents valuable assistance in choosing the most fitting country, university and program basedon students’ preferences and backgrounds. However, within the agent-student relationship,students are vulnerable to unethical practices of some agents, so how the students’ interests canbe protected during the whole recruitment process is still an existing problem in internationalstudent recruitment market (p15-16).36The Chinese government’s policies on foreign study.In order to obtain highly needed scientific and technological talent pool for building aknowledge-based economy in the 21 century, the Chinese government has been reforming anddeveloping domestic higher learning institutions so as to cultivate more highly-educated humanresources. On the other hand, it has also implemented supporting policies on Chinese students’study-abroad activities as a supplementary way to obtain more needed talents (Simon and Cao,2009).Based on the changing political, economic, ideological and educational context, Chinachanged its basic policies on foreign study from time to time (Altbach, 1998, p.169). Since Chinaimplemented the policy of reform and openness in 1978, the Chinese government has beenadopting encouraging and supportive policies on Chinese students’ foreign studies (Altbach,1998, p.169). In current relevant literature, the Chinese government’s policies on foreign studyare thought to be a significant push factor facilitating the mainland students to pursue cross-border higher education.Simon and Cao (2009) state that China in the early 21st century is significantly differentfrom the China in the late 1970s and even the 1990s. China is now more confident aboutbecoming a true economic and technological power not only at a regional but at a global level (p.30). They also argue that China’s booming economic development in the past several decades37heavily depended on “natural resources, fossil fuel, exports based on cheaper labor and extensivecapital investment” (p.29). However, innovation and talent have become the two primary driversfor China to obtain sustainable economic development in the knowledge-based economy of the21st century. Therefore, the Chinese government has adopted various strategies to generate agreatly enhanced talent pool, which is composed of high-quality scientists, engineers and otherprofessionals. The Chinese government expects these people to make substantial advancementsin the scientific and technological sectors of China.Gribble (2008) claims that the sending countries of international students may strive toretain more students at their domestic tertiary education institutions, or allow or even encouragestudents to pursue post-secondary education abroad and then promote the returning back to theirhome countries by giving returnees preferable polices and treatment (p.28). In China, both theuniversity expansion policy and polices for encouraging students to pursue overseas highereducation were adopted by the Chinese government as necessary development strategies to gainneeded talent in the past several decades (Simon and Cao, 2009, p.29-30).Mohrman (2008) reports that the Chinese government is expanding higher educationdramatically not only to develop human capital but to meet the demands of families whodesperately want their children to have a university education (p.31). As a result, the total grossenrollment of the public higher education institutions has been in a most rapid increase since381999 when the university expansion policy was implemented by the Chinese central government(see Table 3). There were over 21 million students studying in regular/public higher educationinstitutions in 2009, which is an increase of 6 million students compared with the number in2005(MOE, 2010). From this perspective, China has attained great achievements in broadeningdomestic students’ access to higher education by expanding and strengthening domestic tertiaryeducation.Table 3 Enrollments of Students in Regular HEIs and Adult HEIS (1999 to 2008, China)Year Total Enrollments(Unit: 10, 000)Regular Public HEIs Adult HEIs Gross Enrollment Ratio1999 275.45 159.68 115.77 10.5%2000 376.76 220.61 156.15 n/a2001 464,21 268.28 195.93 n/a2002 542.82 320.50 222.32 n/a2003 n/a 382.17 n/a 17%2004 668.50 447.34 221.16 19%2005 697.49 504.46 193.03 21%2006 730.49 546.05 184.44 22%2007 757.03 565.92 191.11 23%2008 810.22 607.66 202.56 23.3%2009 840.97 639.49 201.48 24.2%Source: The statistics was adopted from the website of Ministry of Education of China. (2010). Jiao yu fa zhangtong ji gong bao (1999-2009) [Educational Development Statistics Announcement] (1999-2009). Retrieved Oct. 16,2010 from the website of the MOE, author designed and made this table.While the enrollment of higher education institutions in mainland China has increasedsubstantially due to the university expansion policy, the average gross recruitment rate was stillapproximately 20% in the past decade. As an alternative for obtaining necessary humanresources, a large number of mainland Chinese students were encouraged by the government to39seek foreign higher education (Simon and Cao, 2009, p.30). However, previous researchersargue that the Chinese government’s policies on foreign study have been consistently based on aprincipal objective: policies on sending students to study abroad must serve the changingnational needs, i.e. the priorities of its economic and social development in different times.Following this established goal, the Chinese government promulgated and insisted on a guidelinefor students’ study-abroad activities: “support students to study abroad; encourage them to comeback after graduation but returning is not mandatory (Zhou, 2009, p.42).In terms of the polices on foreign study and the recruitment organizations/agentsfacilitating mainland Chinese students to undertake overseas higher education, the Chinesegovernment has transformed from being a complete and direct state-control to formulate policiesand regulations to manage study-abroad activities and issues (Beijing University School ofEducation and Zhongshan University Institute of Higher Education, 2005, p.59). Thus, it isworthy of a brief review of some major policies from the Chinese government so as to know howthese policies play a role in Chinese students’ study-abroad activities.1) The Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) was set up in 1989under the direct administration of the MOE for “offering a full range of services for internationalscholarly exchanges including both Chinese students and scholars going abroad, returning from40abroad and international students and scholars coming to study in China” (CSCSE website,2010).2) The China Scholarship Council (CSC) was established in 1996. It is anongovernmental corporate entity but is directly administered by the MOE. Its purpose is to givefinancial assistance to Chinese nationals wishing to study abroad and to foreign nationalswishing to study in China in accordance with state laws, relevant principles and policies.Its mission is to “develop the educational, scientific and technological, culturalexchanges, and economic and trade cooperation between China and other countries, tostrengthen the friendship and understanding between Chinese people and the people of allother countries, and to promote world peace and the socialist modernization drive inChina (CSC website, 2010)”.3) In 1999, the MOE issued “Regulations on the Management of Intermediary Servicesfor Privately-Funded Foreign Education” for better protecting the legal rights and interests ofstudents who want to seek education abroad at their own costs. There are 402 registeredintermediary services companies in the list released by the MOE until September, 2010.4) In November, 2002, the Chinese government removed a restriction that requires in-school college students to serve their countries for at least five years after graduation before theycan study abroad.415) In 2002, the MOE established a new Department “Department of InternationalCooperation and Exchange” to supervise foreign education activities. The Foreign EducationGuardian Network (JSJ) under the supervision of this new Department is an information sourcefrom the government for self-funded students to find recognized foreign higher educationinstitutions and Sino-foreign cosponsored programs (JSJ Website, 2010).6) In October, 2003, The “Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-FinancedStudents Abroad Program” was established by the MOE and is under the direct administration ofthe China Scholarship Council. This program is a year-based program to give financial assistanceto self-funded doctoral students who are Chinese citizens and have studied in foreign highereducation institutions for at least one year. Successful applicants will be awarded with US$5,000annually.7) In 2003, the MOE released a list of colleges and universities in 21 countries on itsofficial website. Until September 2010, the MOE had listed the recognized post-secondaryinstitutions in 33 countries. This list aims to work as a reliable information source for directingstudents to study in good-quality foreign institutions (JSJ website, 2010).8) In April 2004, the MOE and the State Administration of Industry and Commerceissued a model contract “Contract for Hiring Intermediary Agent Services for Self- Funded42Foreign Education”(MOE, 2010). The MOE intends to prevent dishonest overseas study serviceagencies from cheating students and parents with unfair and illegal service contracts.9) The Central Government set up the Recruitment Program of Global Experts in 2008with the aim of spending five to ten years recruiting top-level overseas scholars, scientists,engineers and management professionals. They are encouraged to return to work in the cutting-edge scientific, technological, financial and commercial management arena in the state-ownedenterprises and banks and hi-tech development zones in different regions (Recruitment Programof Global Expert website, 2010).Besides the above supporting policies, regulations, programs and service organizations,the Chinese government established new government departments, non-governmental serviceagents and centers affiliated with the MOE, specialized research and scholar organizations andstudy-abroad training bases to serve both study-abroad students and returnees (see Figure 6).Figure 6 The Departments /Organizations under the Ministry of Educationfor Work Related to Study-Abroad ActivitiesTheMinistry ofEducationDepartment ofInternational Cooperation& ExchangeThe China ScholarshipCouncilChinese Service Center forScholarly ExchangeShen Zhou ScholarsNetworkChinese Association ofResearch on Study AbroadEducationalDepartments/Sections atembassies and consulatesSource: Note. Shen Zhou means China in English. The original table structure was adopted from the Ministry ofEducation (2005). Principal documents issued by the Ministry of Education and relevant Departments concerning43study-abroad work. Chinese Education and Society, 38(3), pp.63-65. The author changed the names of theDepartment and the organizations according to their official names on their websites.Bodycott (2009) found that knowledge and information of the host institutions andcountries are also one of the common factors that affect international students’ final decisions ofstudy destinations. For mainland Chinese students and their parents, they may rely on the MOEwebsite and other websites under the MOE’s administration for obtaining trustworthyinformation about foreign higher education institutions and the countries where they are located.Moreover, the MOE approves and organizes the International Education Exhibition in Beijing,Shanghai and Guangzhou every year since 2000 (Education Expo China Website, 2010). 540foreign education institutions and providers from 33 countries took part in the 2009 EducationExpo China in Beijing. This education exhibition has become the “barometer” of foreign study inthe Chinese international education market (Education Expo China website, 2010).Although the Chinese government has been supporting mainland Chinese students toseek overseas higher education since the late 1970s, Zweig and Rosen (2003) claim that theChinese government has been decreasing the financial support to study-abroad personnel sincethe middle of 1980s. As a result, more study-abroad students are expected to obtain financialsupport from foreign institutions or at own expenditure. On the other hand, there are few policiesoffering financial support to privately-funded students except the self-financed doctoral students.44They may meet the selection criteria to gain a moderate amount of subsidy from the government(MOE, 2010).Therefore, in accordance with these policies, the Chinese government has provided thestudents who intend to choose overseas higher education more convenience and freedom.However, it seems that the Chinese government has only been maintaining a preferable policyenvironment for students’ study-abroad activities rather than directly investing on their overseasstudies. Moreover, it cannot be found in these policies that there is preferential support fortargeted student population, such as students from under-developed regions, ethnic minorities orgender group.From brain drain to brain circulation in China.Tremblay (2005) argues that the effect of international student mobility on sendingcountries varies because it depends on the individual country’s economic and social developmentlevels. The brain drain is understood as a major and permanent loss to the skilled migrants’country of origin as it has an “injurious effect on the national development of the mothercountry”. Thus, there may be a possible brain drain in comparatively underdeveloped countrieswhen many overseas students from these nations would not come back to their home countriesafter graduation (Tremblay, 2005, p.520). Thus, the brain drain is an issue in some sendingcountries when they send more students out than getting them back.45Although there is a significant outgoing heat among Chinese students in mainland China,the statistics from the MOE of China shows that only one third of study-abroad students returnedto China from 1978 to 2009 (MOE, 2010). Therefore, given this comparatively low returningrate, it seems that China has experienced a “brain drain” of highly-educated human resourcessince China lost over one million overseas talents in the past three decades.Trow (1972) suggests that the elite system of higher education enrolls 15% of the agegroup (18-21 years old) in higher education institutions; the mass higher education means theenrollment rate ranges from 15% to 50% of the age group (p.61-64). Yao et. al (2010) contendsthat since the average gross enrollment rate of the public higher learning institutions in the pastdecade was approximately 20%, China’s higher education system has transformed from an elitesystem to mass higher education. On the other hand, the statistics of MOE of China shows thatsix million Chinese students were enrolled in both the regular and adult higher educationinstitutions each year in the past decade (see Table 4). Therefore, it may be reasonable to thinkthat China might not have suffered from a severe brain drain since increasingly expandingdomestic higher education institutions have turned out a large number of highly-educated youngpeople for supporting its economic and social development.Welch and Zhang (2008) believe that governments of the sending countries haveinstituted sustained efforts to reverse the tide of brain drain (p.521). Gribble (2008) argues that46“engaging with the Diaspora is widely regarded as the most effective way for skilled migrants toactively contribute to the economic and social development of their home countries” (p.33). InChina’s context, Chen (2003) claim that the Chinese government no longer only persuadesoverseas intellectuals to return to China. Instead, it gives them more freedom to choose differentways of making contributions to China’s economic and social development (Chen, 2003,p.26).This changed policy orientation was firstly reflected on the document “A Number ofOpinions on Encouraging Personnel Studying Abroad to Serve Their Country by Various Meansand Methods”, which was issued jointly by several Ministries taking charge of human resources,education, science, technology and public security in 2001 (Chen, 2003, p.25). The“Opinions” defines the main ways that Chinese overseas talent can serve China’s construction ofmodernization:(1) holding a concurrent post in China; (2) conducting cooperative research with aChinese organization; (3) doing research abroad on commission by China; (4) coming toChina to start up endeavors; (5) training talent for China; (6) providing intermediaryservices to China on economic, science/technology and cultural projects (Chen,2003,p.25).47For attracting more overseas talent to return to China, the Chinese government givesreturnees favorable treatment and continues to set up a variety of targeted assistance programs tosupport their reflux. As a rewarding outcome of the Chinese government’s endeavor, China isgaining more and more overseas talent to return to their home countries. As shown in Figure 7,China saw a new tide of returnees in 2003 when the number of returnees was over 20,000 for thefirst time since 1978 (MOE, 2004). The total of returnees was almost 50% of the numbers ofstudy-abroad students in 2009 (as shown in Figure 8). For the first time, over 100,000 returneescame back to China in 2009, which is the largest reverse flow of study-abroad students in thepast three decades (see Figure 7).Figure 7 The totals of Returnees of Chinese Overseas Students (2003-2009)Unit: 1,000Source: statistics for each year was adopted from the website of the Ministry of Education.48Figure 8 The Numbers of Returnees Percentage (2004-2009)Source: statistics of returnees for each year was adopted from the website of the Ministry of Education of China.Gao (2003) noticed that although the “going-abroad” heat has never slowed down amongmainland Chinese students since the early 1990s, the sign of “return-to- China” heat that resultedfrom the “China opportunity theory” has emerged among Chinese overseas elite in the pastdecade (p.86-87). Although the returning of overseas students used to be thought as an individualpatriotic action, the returnees’ motivations for coming back to China has changed to be a rationalreflux (Chan et. al, 2003, p.26).Researchers argue that China needs more overseas elite who are familiar withinternational standards and rules to help deepen China’s economic and political reform afterChina became a member country of WTO (Chen, 2003, p.24). Thus, returnees thought thatthey have sufficient opportunities to have academic and professional development in China.49Although more than one million Chinese students had still been studying in foreign countriesuntil the end of 2008, Han and Zweig (2010) found that more and more returnees are joining thepolitical, economic and academic elite in China. Morhman (2009) states that some of them havemade significant contribution to their home country:5.8% of provincial leaders have overseas experiences, as do 13.6% of governmentministers. By 2008, China has two ministers with overseas PhDs, and approximately 100officials at the vice-governor level who have spent at least one year studying orresearching overseas. More than half of all Chinese university presidents and vicepresidents have studied abroad; 81% of the scientists at the Chinese Academy of Scienceshave overseas experiences; two-thirds of the 3,000 faculty members at Beijing Universityhave studied abroad for more than one year”(p.40)Previous researchers believe that one crucial factor for retaining returnees in China is thatthere must be no going back on China’s economic and political reform, because only a countrywith full faith and enough courage for self-transformation is worthy of a long-term trust andcontribution on the part of returnees. The other decisive factor is that the rights and interests ofreturnees should be protected by the government. Although China has not suffered from a severebrain drain because of the large outflow of students, the Chinese government should put as mucheffort to keep returned talent in China as its endeavor for attracting them to come back.Furthermore, the reverse flow of “Chinese intellectual Diaspora” represents a recentdevelopment in the orientation of transnational flow of skilled individuals. This orientation50shows that it is not appropriate to simply regard the outflow of highly skilled personnel as thebrain drain; instead, brain circulation is a more appropriate term for representing thisphenomenon of the global mobility of transnational talent (Tremblay, 2005; Welch and Zhang,2008, p.521).ConclusionKeeping in mind the aim of finding the main push and pull factors motivating Chinesestudents to pursue overseas higher education, I learnt about a variety of motives shown in theabove reviewed literature. However, I noticed that few researchers in my referred literature havediscussed about whether there is any relationship between the availabilities of domestic highereducation for Chinese students after the enforcement of the university expansion policy and themost significant going-abroad heat among Chinese students after the implementation of thispolicy.The past decade witnessed the most tremendous reform and transformation in China’shigher education system. I wanted to investigate the push and pull factors that actuallyinfluenced so many Chinese students to choose overseas higher education during thisunprecedented period of time.51Chapter Three MethodologyIntroductionI adopted semi-structure one-on-one interview as my research method in this study. I didinterviews with nine Chinese international students on the Point Grey Campus of the Universityof British Columbia (UBC). Each interview lasted about 45 to 90 minutes. I aimed to find outwhat factors motivated my research subjects to choose to pursue overseas higher education andhow these factors influenced their decision-making process based on their various characteristicsand backgrounds. Also, I intended to know if they were familiar with or they have benefitedfrom the Chinese government’s policies on their foreign study. With regard to the push and pullmodel which has been used as the theoretical framework in this study, I wanted to explore howthis model explains my interviewees’ motivations and anticipation to seek overseas highereducation. The following presents the rationales of my research design, data collection methodand data analysis approaches in this study.Research DesignTheoretical framework of research design.Creswell (1994) suggests that researchers understand different assumptions of aquantitative and qualitative research paradigm before deciding on choosing which research52tradition to guide a study design (Creswell, 1994, p.4-6). In his words, a methodology for doing astudy emerges from distinct understanding of reality, the relationship between the researcher andthe researched, the researcher’s values and the rhetoric of the study (p.7). A quantitative studyaims to use a deductive form of reasoning to test a hypothesis or theories based on existing“concepts, variables or hypotheses” in order to develop a generalization to predict andunderstand some phenomenon. However, a qualitative study intends to use an inductive logic todevelop “patterns or theories” for explaining a “context-bound” phenomenon based on context-bound” information of informants (p.7).Gay, Mills and Airasian (2008) state that underlying the quantitative research paradigm,researchers believe that the truth of the world is independent and objective so can be understoodby scientific research examination. Quantitative researchers have little personal interaction withresearch participants because they often collect numerical data by using paper-and-pencil orother non-interactive instruments. However, qualitative researchers argue that all meanings aresituated in a particular perspective or context, and none of the different perspectives or contextsare more valid than another. Based on this assumption, qualitative researchers gain insights into aparticular phenomenon in the world by collecting narrative or visual data by conductingextensive interaction with research participants.53With regard to how educational researchers select an appropriate research paradigm fortheir studies, Gay, Mills and Airasian (2008) contend that personal experiences, authoritativesources and inductive reasoning or deductive reasoning constitute the components of a scientificmethod for conducting a research: defining a research problem, formulating a hypothesis,collecting data, analyzing data and stating conclusions that confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis.Educational research is “the formal, systematic application of the scientific method to the studyof educational problems” and it shares the same goal as other scientific studies (Gay, Mills andAirasian, 2009, p.6). And all educational inquires share a similar study process: data selection,data analysis and interpretation and draw conclusions (p.6).Selection of a research paradigm.Creswell (1994) maintains that four factors may influence a researcher’s final decision ona research paradigm. Firstly, the researcher’s worldview may favor the assumptions of aquantitative or qualitative research paradigm. The researcher’s previous research training orexperience makes him or her feel comfortable with a research tradition. The nature of theresearch problem is considered as another important factor. The quantitative problem statementspresent that the purpose of the study is either to find relationship or to make a comparisonbetween known variables. A qualitative research problem needs to be explored by the researcher54because there is little or incomplete information on it, therefore, the problem statements differconsiderably from the quantitative problem statements. Finally, the selected research paradigmmust make its audience “understand or at least support a viable, legitimate methodology” (p.8-10).Creswell (1994) also points out that research questions, hypothesis or objectives of astudy is another necessary “signpost” to carry out a research methodology. As the “specificrestatement and clarification of the research problem”, research questions, hypothesis orobjectives reflect the assumptions of a selected research paradigm too (p.69). Quantitativeresearchers present research questions, hypothesis or objectives as either “a comparison betweentwo or more groups in terms of a dependent variable or as a relationship of two or moreindependent and dependent variables. They may also write “descriptive questions to describeresponses to the independent or dependent variables” (p.73). However, qualitative researchersusually write research questions rather than hypothesis or objectives for their studies. Theresearch questions may contain a grand question and several sub-questions. The researchers liketo use “discover, explain, explore or describe” to state their research questions in order to showreaders the qualitative characteristics of their studies (p.64-74).55Before I decided to choose a qualitative research paradigm to be my researchmethodology, I considered the nature of my study. My study intended to explore and understandan educational phenomenon—a large number of Chinese students chose to pursue foreign highereducation in the past decade. My study purpose is to discover what factors motivated them tomake this decision. Although there are plenty of researchers who employed the pull and pushmodel to examine international student mobility, there are not enough research findings inexisting literature that focus on explaining what factors brought about an upsurge of Chinesestudents’ academic migration from mainland China after 1999 when the Chinese governmentbegan to implement the university expansion policy in the domestic higher education sector.Verifying the arguments concerning the motivations and expectations of Chineseinternational students in relevant literature is not my research goal. In my study, I aimed to knowabout Chinese international students’ past experiences in deciding to undertake overseas higherlearning. Therefore, I believed that a qualitative research paradigm was more appropriate fordoing my study.56Data CollectionResearch interviewing as the data collection method.Creswell (1994) presents that there are four types of qualitative data collection sourcesand techniques: observations, interviews, documents/records and audiovisual materials (p.150-151). Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009) claim qualitative researchers collect inquired data fromobserving, interviewing, administering questionnaires and examining records (p.366). Obviously,interviewing is regarded as a commonly used qualitative research method.Kvale (1996) presents that qualitative interviewing uses conversation as a researchmethod and categorizes conversation into three different forms: in everyday life, in literature andin the professions (Kvale, 1996, p.5). A research interview is based on the everyday conversationbut acts as one form of professional conversation with its purpose, structure, methodologicalawareness of question forms and a critical attention to responses (p.20). In Kvale’s (1996) words,understanding nature of knowledge moves from “positivist perspectives to a postmodern socialconstruction of reality, hermeneutical interpretations of the meanings of texts, phenomenologicaldescriptions of consciousness and the dialectical situating of human activities in social andhistorical contexts”. These reasons can explain why research interviewing has been increasinglyadopted as a research method in social science (p.10-11).57Adopting research interviewing as a research method has its advantages (Creswell, 1994;Gay, Mills and Airasian, 2009). Research methodologists believe that interview permitsresearchers to obtain important information that they cannot get from observation alone, such asthe research participants’ past experiences. Interviewers can explore and probe participants’responses to gather in-depth data about their experiences and feelings. Furthermore, it is possiblefor the researcher to control the questioning procedure so as to get most needed information frominformants (Creswell, 1994, p.150; Gay, Mills and Airasian, 2008, p.370).Semi-structured interview as the selected research method.Kvale (1996) argues that qualitative research interview is technically semi-structured: itis neither an open conversation nor a highly structured questionnaire. He points out that aresearch interview is conducted according to an interview guide that focuses on certain themesand may include suggested questions and then the interview is usually transcribed into writtentexts with the tape recording that are the materials for subsequent interpretation of meanings(p.27). Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009) state that a semi-structured interview combines bothstructured and unstructured interview approaches. They suggest that the researcher should try toinclude both open and closed questions in the interview because closed questions allow for briefresponses while open questions lead to detailed responses and elaboration on questions from the58interviewers. Some information may not be anticipated by the interviewers (Gay, Mills andAirasian, 2008, p.371).Because my study is a qualitative research on examining the outward academic migrationphenomenon of Chinese students from mainland China, I employed one-on-one and face to faceinterviews with my research participants as my data collection method. According to Kvale’ssuggestions on developing effective interview questions, I prepared both open and closedresearch questions in my interview guide (Kvale, 1996, p.27).I noticed that methodologists also have different critique about the limitations of researchinterviewing. The medium of research interviewing is language, but not all people have equalarticulate and perceptive abilities. As a result, the research subjects’ insufficient linguisticabilities may result in inaccurate responses. On the other hand, the interviewer’s inefficientquestioning and probing abilities may lead to their failure to probe in-depth data from theinformants (Gay, Mills and Airasian, 2008, p.370-371).Pilot study with research participants.In order to increase my interview quality, I did pilot interviews with three Chineseinternational students at UBC. What I was most concerned about was my interviewees’ Englishspeaking skills because I worried that as Mandarin speakers, their oral English abilities might59hinder them from effectively expressing some of their deep thoughts and complicated feelingsduring the interview. Considering this, I decided to allow my research participants to choose toanswer my interview questions in English or Mandarin. As another very productive result of mypilot study, a self-reflection on three pilot interviews helped me improve my skills in acting as abetter listener but managing to probe richer information from my interviewees with the guidanceof my thesis supervisor Dr. Rubenson.Originally, I designed fifteen questions in my interview guide. However, after doing acloser examination of these interview questions, I realized that it was not necessary for myinterviewees to answer two closely related questions separately. Instead, when responding to aninclusive question, they got enough space to tell me more relevant information. Therefore, inaccordance with the suggestions of my thesis supervisor and committee member Dr. Mazawi, Icondensed my original fifteen questions into eight broad questions that better focus on collectingnarrative data from my research subjects to answer my three research questions (see Appendix 1).Reasons for selecting UBC as the research site.According to the statistics from the Canadian government, 25% of international studentsstudying in Canada came from China in 2009. Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec are the topthree most popular study destinations for Chinese international students across Canada (CIC60website, 2010). Since 2009, mainland China has been the top source country of internationalstudents in British Columbia (LearnLive BC Website, 2012). Among Canadian universities, theUniversity of British Columbia (UBC) has the second largest share of Chinese internationalstudents (UBC Facts and Figures, 2010/2011). From the 2009 academic year, Chineseinternational students became the largest group of international students at UBC and most ofthem are undergraduate students (UBC Facts and Figures, 2010/ 2011).Based on above facts and statistics, I believed that UBC is an ideal research site for me todo a study about Chinese international students’ higher education. Besides that, as a Chinesegraduate student at UBC, it was more convenient for me to recruit research participants to attendmy study. The reason why I chose undergraduate Chinese students as my research subjects wasbecause they had a more recent experience in choosing to pursue overseas higher education aftergraduation from high school in mainland China.Sampling method: snowball sampling.Qualitative sampling is the process of selecting a small number of individuals for a studyin such a way that the individuals chosen will be good informants for collecting data tounderstand a given phenomenon, because the purpose of a qualitative research is not togeneralize into a context or population (Gay, Mills and Airasian, 2009, p.135). The mostimportant sampling tenet of qualitative research is to select participants who are “thoughtful,61informative, articulate and experienced with the research topic and setting” so as to best helpresearchers understand the phenomenon under study. A large number of research subjects do notnecessarily mean that the study and its results will be more reliable or useful (p.135-136).In my study, I planned to recruit eight to twelve Chinese international students at UBC toparticipate in my research. My recruitment criteria for finding potential research participantswere as follows: she or he finished senior high school in mainland China and is studying as aninternational undergraduate at UBC for the time being. There are different qualitative samplingmethods. Snowball sampling is defined as selecting a few people who fit the researcher’s needsand then use those as the initial participants to identify potential participants until the researcherhas reached sufficient number of research participants. I adopted snowball sampling as mysampling approach.As a member of the Chinese student community coming from mainland China, I recruitedfour familiar Chinese international students to work as the third party to help me find prospectiveresearch subjects. Based on the policies on conducting a third party recruitment and snowballsampling regulated by the Behavioral Research Ethics Board (BREB) at UBC, I emailed thesefour students the Letter of Initial Contact and got their agreement to work as the third party in mystudy (see Appendix 2 and 3).62After getting the permissions from prospective research participants through theintermediate contact of the third party, I emailed them a Consent Form which was signed bythem as an agreement of attending my research. In this Consent Form, I introduced my study andincluded necessary information about this study regulated by the BREB so that my potentialresearch participants would be able to make an informed decision (see Appendix 4). Complyingwith my selection criteria, I recruited fourteen Chinese international undergraduates as myresearch participants. Among these thirteen research subjects, two of them didn’t attend myinterviews as they had agreed in the Consent form; three of them took part in my pilot study;nine students formally took part in my interviews.Before I began interviewing my research subjects, I got their permissions to record theirinterviews with a voice recorder by signing the Consent Form as well. I also reconfirmed his orher permission before starting to record the interview.Characteristics of research participants.My nine research participants were between the ages of 20 to 22 years. There were sevenfemale and two male students. These nine students are currently studying in different faculties ofUBC. Three students are studying in different programs at the Sauder School of Business. Fivestudents are enrolled in various programs in the Faculty of Arts. One student is a bio-chemistrystudent in the Faculty of Science. All these nine students started to study at UBC after 2009 as63either a first-year freshman or a transferred third-year senior. They came from five provinces inmainland China: Zhejiang, Shangdong, Henan, Guanxi and Jiangsu and two municipalities:Shanghai and Beijing (see Table 4). All of them are Han nationality which is the main nationalitygroup in current mainland China.Table 4 Personal Background of Nin e IntervieweesStudent Gender HomeProvince/MunicipalityMajor and Academic Year at UBC Faculty at UBC EthnicGroupS1 Female Shangdong Commerce and Economics / the third-Year The Sauder School of Business HanS2 Female Shanghai Economics/third-year Faculty of Arts HanS3 Female Beijing Economic/third-year Faculty of Arts HanS4 Female Jiangsu Finance/third-year The Sauder School of Business HanS5 Female Henan Not claimed a major/second-year The Sauder School of Business HanS6 Male Guanxi Bio-Chemistry and Chemistry/second-year Faculty of Science HanS7 Female Henan Theatre Design and Production/third-year Faculty of Arts HanS8 Beijing Beijing Psychology/third-year Faculty of Arts HanS9 Male Zhejiang Linguistics/fourth-year Faculty of Arts HanAmong these nine participants, five students transferred from other Canadian post-secondary institutions to begin their third-year learning at UBC. The other four students wererecruited by UBC as a high school graduate. Most of them had studied in an ESL program in anEnglish training organization in mainland China or other post-secondary institutions in Canadabefore they wrote Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International EnglishLanguage Test Service (IELTS) in order to meet UBC’s English language proficiencyrequirements for international students. In order to successfully come to study in Canada, these64nine students have used different types of services of international education agents to assistthem through the whole preparation and application procedure of student visa and overseas post-secondary institutions.Data AnalysisKvale (1996) claims that learning about some approaches to interview analysis helpsresearchers make the time-consuming analysis process more organized and productive (p.187).He argues that the interviewer conducts data analysis on the sites of interviews and afterfinishing transcribing interviews. In his words, the interviewer may conduct the “on-the-spot”confirmation and disconfirmation of what the interviewees describe. After that, the interviewermay analyze and interpret the transcribed interviews in three steps: organizing the complexinterview materials by transcriptions or computer analysis programs, classifying the essential andnon-essential materials and finally developing the meanings of the interviews.Kvale (1996) suggests five approaches for researchers in the “developing meanings” step.I will adopt the following four approaches to conduct the data analysis process in my study:condensation of meaning, categorization of meaning, structuring of meaning through narrativesand interpretation of meaning (p.188-204):Meaning condensation: reducing large interview texts into briefer and more succinctformulations65Meaning Categorization: coding interview materials into categories including reducing longstatements into simple categories and thus structuring a large text into a few tables and figures.Narrative structuring: focusing on working out the structures and plots of the stories told bythe interviewees or creating a coherent story out of the many happenings reported by theinterviewees.Meaning interpretation: conducting in-depth interpretations of the statementsand recontextualizing the statements of interviewees within broader frames of reference.In my data analysis procedure, firstly, whenever I was unclear about my interviewees’responses, I did the on-the-spot checking and confirming to completely understand what theymeant. I adopted Kvale’s three steps and four approaches to analyze my research findings. As thefirst step of the data analysis procedure, I transcribed verbatim nine interviews and emailed thesetranscriptions back to my research subjects to check their accuracy. After that, I classified myinterviewees’ narration into essential and non-essential information based on what information isnecessary or superfluous for answering my three research questions.During the following in-depth analysis and interpretation process, I firstly condensed myinterviewees’ narrated motivations and anticipation for pursuing overseas higher education intoshorter statements, and then categorized these shortened statements into minor or major andindividual or common factors. Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009) advise researchers to use figures66and tables to add clarity to research findings (p.513). Using the push and pull model as mytheoretical framework, I further categorized the major or minor and shared or personalmotivating factors into push or pull factors in tables or figures. Doing this categorization helpedme find out how well the push and pull model theory explains the study-abroad activities of myresearch participants.I applied Kvale’s narrative structuring approach to organize interviewees’ experiences inknowing and utilizing relevant Chinese government policies on foreign study. After completingorganizing and writing well-structured stories of my interviewees, I concluded how well theywere informed of the Chinese government’s policies on overseas education during their decision-making procedures and if they had relied on relative policies to benefit their going-abroadactivities. Therefore, I obtained information to answer my third research question exploring whatrole did the Chinese government’s policies on foreign study play in my interviewees’ decisionson studying abroad.Kvale (1996) also suggests that researchers conduct a “re-interview” step by giving theirresearch subjects an opportunity to comment on the interviewer’s interpretation when he or shehas finished the analysis and interpretation of the interviews (p.190). Taking Kvale’s advice, Iasked my research participants to review my data analysis and interpretation as a “re-interview”so as to improve the trustworthiness of my research findings (Kvale, 1996, p.190).67Trustworthiness of Research ResultsQualitative researchers use trustworthiness as the term to describe the validity andreliability of their studies to distinguish themselves from the traditional quantitative researchparadigm. Research methodologists have written about different strategies that can be used toimprove the trustworthiness of the qualitative research. Drawing comments from Merriam (1988),Miles and Huberman (1984), Creswell (1994) frames trustworthiness into internal validity andexternal validity.Regarding the internal validity, researchers discuss the plans to triangulate or find“convergence among sources of information, different investigators or different methods of datacollection”. Researchers also use member checks as another strategy. They take the categories orthemes back to the informants to check accuracy of their conclusions. Trying to involve researchparticipants in all phases of the study is also a method for researchers to improve thetrustworthiness. For example, the research participants may help collect data and review thefindings.In terms of improving external validity, discussing the limited generalizability of thefindings is a useful method for researchers. The researchers should also write about the limitedreplication of the study so as to improve the reliability of the study. If a researcher keeps detailed68records of the research context and the data collection procedure, the readers will be able todecide whether this study can be replicated in other situations (p.159).Taking into consideration realistic strategies for improving the trustworthiness of my studyduring a limited period of time, I employed member checks as the means to improve the internalvalidity of my study results: emailed each research subject his or her interview transcript toconfirm its accuracy in order to make sure that my later data analysis and interpretation would bebased on true information. I also emailed my research participants the first draft to ask for theirfeedback on it so that I involved them as the reviewers of my study.In order to improve the external validity of my research outcomes, I pointed out the limitedgeneralizability of my study findings in the chapter Discussion and Conclusion in this thesis sothat the readers of my thesis will have objective suppositions about the generalizability of mystudy findings. I presented sufficient details of my study procedure in the chapter Methodologyso other interested researchers will be able to judge if it is possible for them to replicate my studyin other contexts.Research Ethical Considerations:Confidentiality of the research participants is a very important concern for me so I codedeach research participant to be anonymous and used alphanumeric S1, S2 and so on to identifyall information about each research subject in order to keep their identifications strictly69confidential. The interview transcripts are kept in a locked filing cabinet and also stored in apassword-protected computer folder. Only my supervisory committee members Dr. Rubenson,Dr. Mazawi and Dr. Walter and I have access to all stored data. The signed consent forms arestored separately from other data in a locked file cabinet to protect my research participants’identities. According to the regulations of the BREB at UBC, all data records will be kept in asafe manner for five years.70Chapter 4 ResultsIntroductionThis Chapter presents research results from the interviews of nine Chinese internationalstudents at UBC. This study adopted Kvale’s four data analysis methods to find differentmotivations and expectations of the nine research participants seeking overseas higher education(Kvale, 1996, p.188-204). The researcher condensed and organized the lengthy verbatiminterview transcripts to obtain inquired information to answer her three research questions. Afterthat, the researcher categorized the main or minor and the shared or individual motives thatinfluenced these nine students’ decision to study abroad. Based on the theoretical framework ofthis study, the researcher categorized the variety of motivating factors into pull or push factors.Motivation and Influential Factors for Making a Study-Abroad DecisionVarious motivations for studying abroadAlthough my interviewees shared some common motives that drove them to decide topursue higher education in Canada, they did have different reasons and incentives that broughtabout their determination to do their undergraduate learning abroad. In the perspective of theirdifferent personal characteristics and family backgrounds before coming to Canada, I found thatit is better to categorize them into three groups of students. Considering the confidentiality of myinterviewees’ personal information, all information about them is anonymous. Based on my71interview order, the alpha-numeric S1 to S9 were used to identify my research findings abouteach student.S3 and S7 were categorized as the first group of students. These two students acquiredtheir senior high school education in a local-foreign jointly sponsored program. They decided toundertake their undergraduate study abroad before attending senior high school. Thus, theirmotivations are articulated separately from the other seven students (see Table 5):Table 5 Shared and Personal Motives of Two StudentsShared Motives Not studied in a regular senior high school so was not competitive in attending thenational entrance examinationFew opportunities to get in the key universities if not studied in a key senior higherschoolParents’ support and sufficient financial abilities for going-abroad studySelf strong desires for experiencing the life and study in an advanced WesterncountryPerceived better quality of higher education in a developed Western countrycompared with that of ChinaA brighter future after graduating from a well-known overseas universityEasily accessible information about foreign higher education institutions and theirlocated countries from the co-sponsored high school programAssistance of international education service agenciesPersonal/Other Motives Not satisfied with the educational system and teaching/learning methodsA spring-board for realizing the desires for travelling around the worldExpected more opportunities for future profession and life in an less-populatedoverseas countryThe motivations of the other six students S2, S4, S5, S6, S8 and S9, were put into anothergroup because all of them had finished a regular senior high school education and wrote the72national entrance examination before they decided to apply or transfer to study in a Canadianuniversity (see Table 6):Table 6 Shared and Personal Motives of Six StudentsShared Motives Failed to be enrolled in the most desired university because of a deficient total scoreof the national entrance examinationMuch harder to get a good job if not graduating from a well-known university inChina and having useful social network /relationshipParents’ support and good economic situationFamily relatives or friends’ recommendation and support who are living in theirdesired overseas countriesPerceived lower quality of higher education in ChinaStrong self-determination to experience the outside world: different cultures andsocietal environmentPerceived more opportunities to obtain a satisfactory job if graduating from a famousuniversity in a developed Western countryAffordable overseas study costsRelaxed polices on international student’s study visa in a host countryAssistance of study-abroad service agenciesPersonal / Other Motives Not enjoyed learning or life in the university in ChinaCouldn’t transfer to more favorable university because of the lack of the transferringsystem in the higher education system in ChinaWork permit for international studentsPossibility to immigrate into the host countryImpressive visiting experience of UBC and VancouverDesiring to learn and improve English or other foreign languages in a English-speaking countryHaving friends/townsmen who were studying in their desired host countriesGetting enough English language test score for applying for an inclined overseaspost-secondary institutionGetting face to face orientation and other first-hand information about desired higherlearning institutions and their located countries by attending the China InternationalEducation Exhibition Tour (CIEET)S1 is the student whose experience before deciding to study in Canada is different fromthe above eight students because she is the only student who did a normal senior high school73education but didn’t write the entrance examination as most of her peers did in China. I believeher incentives are worth presenting individually (see Table 7).Table 7 One Student’s MotivesIndividual Motives Feeling not fit in the educational system: teaching methods and learningenvironment in senior high schoolStrong self-determination to study abroad so as to avoid taking the national entranceexaminationDesiring to experience a different study environment in a different countryFamily members’ support and reliable financial capabilitySeeking a better future after graduating from a well-known overseas universityLoving learning English since a young childAffordable overseas study costs in a host countryHaving a cousin who was studying in a Canadian college and provided herinformation about learning in CanadaWork permit for international studentsAssistance of overseas study intermediary service agentsCommon motivations of the nine interviewed students.Although they finished different types of senior higher school education, after comparingtheir motivational factors, I found that they have the following common intentions andanticipations that drove them to undertake higher education abroad:(1)First of all, the once-in-a-lifetime national entrance examination is still an overwhelmingobstacle that hindered them from obtaining a desired higher education in mainland China.74Most of them did not perform as well as expected in the entrance examination. Therefore,they didn’t meet the admission requirements of their most desirable universities. Two students(S5 and S6) said that although they were looked at by their teachers as outstanding students intheir classes in a key middle school in their cities, they still didn't manage to get a competitivescore for applying for their intended universities outside of their residing provinces: HenanProvince and Guanxi Province.They thought that because both Henan and Guanxi are two comparatively under-developedareas in China (refer to the economic regions of China on p.31), two factors affected theirchoices of higher education in a passive way: firstly, there is an allocation of admission quotasthat is biased to a great extent towards local students residing in the cities where most keyuniversities are located, thus marginalizing non-local students. The other negative factor is thatbecause of the unbalanced distribution of higher education resources across the whole nation,there are few high-quality universities located in Henan and Guanxi because most of 985 and211 universities are located in Eastern regions and other big cities. As a result, their opportunitiesof studying in a better university were reduced largely due to above reasons.Even for the three students (S1, S3 and S7) who didn’t write the national entranceexamination, they didn’t believe that if they had written it, they could have obtained requiredscore for being able to learn in an ideal institution. S1 came from a developed Eastern province-75Shangdong, but she didn’t think her academic performance in senior high school was goodenough for her to get a satisfactory result in the entrance examination. Thus, she didn’t havecourage to attend the entrance examination. S3 and S7 didn’t attend a regular senior high school,so it was almost impossible for them to obtain a required score to attend their intended highereducation institutions in mainland China.However, these students didn’t want to give up hope for pursuing high-quality highereducation despite all discouraging factors, so they decided to seek a second chance in the popularhost countries of international students. To a certain extent, studying abroad was regarded bythem as the only reachable choice under their dismaying situation.S5:“It is very hard to for senior high school graduates in Henan Province to go to study ina top university in Beijing. My first choice was to study in Beijing Universitybut my total score in the national entrance examination lacks eight marks to meet therequired total score for applying to Beijing University. Then, I had to study in ChinaAgricultural University. It is still a good university in China, but I didn’t feelsatisfied with this result because I knew in my heart I still wanted to study in one of thetop university like Beijing University, so I decided to find if there are opportunities forme to do my undergraduate study in an foreign university…”S6:“I didn’t get an ideal total mark in the entrance examination so had to study in76Guanxi University. The university enrollment rate is not so high in GuanxiProvince since it is a remote and less developed province in China. My classmates in mysenior high school thought I was lucky to get a seat in the best university in our province,but I felt so disappointed and unlucky. I had believe I would get enough total score tostudy in one of first-class universities outside of Guanxi Province because I was a goodstudent in my senior high school. In Guanxi, we were not allowed to re-take the nationalentrance examination so going abroad was the only choice for me to change my destiny.”(2)All students had a strong self-determination to go to study abroad, whichwas the most influential internal motive for them to choose to pursue foreign higher education.Six students were disappointed with their performance in the entrance examination but theybelieved that their learning potential deserved better quality higher education. Thus, they beganto look for possible opportunities outside of their home country before other people came upwith opinions or suggestions for them.S3 and S7 decided to choose a different route to obtain more opportunities to achieve high-quality university education long before their graduation from senior high school. The reasonbehind their decision to complete a senior high school education in a local-foreign co-sponsoredprogram was that they hadn't performed well in the united entrance examination for senior highschool in their cities. Thus, both their parents and they believed that they would be in an inferiorposition compared with the students who were studying in the key senior high schools. There are77large disparities in teaching quality, learning environment and other educational resources indifferent levels of senior high schools in their living regions.Therefore, their parents and they thought that attending a Sino-Canada jointly sponsoredsenior high school program would be a rewarding strategy to help them avoid their perceiveddisadvantages in accessing tertiary education in the future. On the other hand, as a senior highschool graduate from a Sino-foreign co-sponsored program, they would be exempt from writingthe entrance examination for higher education. However, they would have academicqualifications to apply for an overseas post-secondary institution. These two students alsocommented that their parents gave them the freedom to choose which kind of senior high schoolthey wanted to attend and supported their choice. Thus, it was mostly their decision to pursue analternative senior high school education.To conclude, these two students already chose to undertake an overseas undergraduateeducation even before they attended senior high school. Their self-determination is the first stepin their long-term preparation for their study-abroad plan.S3:“I didn’t get good scores in the united entrance examination of senior high school in Beijing,so I couldn’t go to study in a key senior high school in my district. But, I thought comparedwith those students studying in a key school, I would also in an disadvantageous situationwhen I were to attend the entrance examination for applying to a good university. My78parents felt that although a Sino-Foreign co-sponsored senior high school program is muchmore expensive than regular senior high school education, the investment should be a veryrewarding investment because it will increase my chances of getting in a good overseasuniversity in the future.”S1 who didn’t write the entrance examination after graduating from a normal high school,decided to undertake overseas higher education mainly because of her disappointment with thelearning atmosphere in her senior high school. She said that a student’s academic performancewas regarded by everyone at her senior high school as almost the only criterion for judging his orher success. She found that the most valuable achievement of a student was all related to his orher test scores. She thought herself as a disobedient or even rebellious student to these commonlyaccepted views. She said that she was in confusion about the purpose of her study and life duringthe whole three-year learning in her senior high school.As an imaginable outcome of her perceived rebelliousness under the teaching and learningenvironment in her school, she was thought of as a poor student in her academics. As a directconsequence of her undesirable academic performance, she decided not to attend the entranceexamination. Instead, she began to look for possibilities to undertake higher education outsidethe Chinese higher education system. She wanted to give herself other opportunities to realizeher higher academic goals.79S1:“I felt so much pressure from my study in my senior high school. I was studying in a keysenior high school in my city but I found it was so hard for me to get used to thecompetition for a better score and stressful study environment in that school. All myteachers told us to only focus on study other than other things, but what the purpose of ourlearning is? I don’t want to be a bookworm because I need to have my own aspirationsfor learning knowledge and planning for my future life. Unfortunately, I found most of myclassmates were just studying for getting a high score in the coming entranceexamination…”(3)Parents’ social and economic background was another main decisive factor for choosingto study abroad.It is impressive for me to find out that my interviewees’ families were willing to respecttheir children’s determination to study abroad as long as they thought that it would be abeneficial decision for their children’ higher education achievements. Most of their parents wereobjective and had an open mind towards their children’s decisions. They spent a long timediscussing their thinking and planning in order to find out feasible ways to realize their study-abroad dreams.As discussed in above texts, financial constrains may be an outstanding obstacle in gainingaccess to higher education for different groups of populations in a stratified Chinese society.Compared with the domestic costs of higher education, the expenditure of overseas higher80education in an advanced OECD country was a much higher investment for my researchparticipants’ families. However, the financial expenses were not a constraining factor for thesestudents.Since not all families in mainland China can afford their children’s overseas studies, myinterviewees’ parents estimated whether or not they had sufficient financial capabilities to makesuch an educational investment. But, they felt confident in supporting their children’s four-yearoverseas learning in a developed Western country. I found these students’ parents’ confidencewas closely related with their social and economic backgrounds in China.After being asked about their family’s social class, all of my research participants withoutany hesitation replied to me, “I think my family belongs to the middle class in China.” Three ofthem told me that they thought their families could be categorized into the upper middle class(see Figure 9). Thus, if referring to the classification of social classes in current China (Wang,2009, p.11), these nine students obviously were belonging to upper or middle class populationgroups. Their families’ social and economic class explains why they have more freedom in theirchoices of higher education.81Figure 9 Nine Interviewees’ Parents’ OccupationsMy interviewees said that their parents believed that investing in their higher education isthe most valuable investment in their future adult life. Because they, except one female student,are the only child in their families, they could exclusively use their family’s incomes and savingsto pursue better higher education. On the other hand, their academic success is also regarded bysociety as their parents’ success in raising a child. A young person’s educational achievementsare still highly valued by ordinary Chinese people.Although it seems that the economic factor did not arouse the parents’ concerns too muchbased on their professions and incomes, these students’ parents worried about whether they couldget the admission offer from their preferred overseas universities and the study visa to go to the82host countries. Most importantly, they were not sure how they would live independently in aculturally and socially different country since they have grown up in a very comfortable livingenvironment as the only child in the family.To be more specific, their parents worried about whether their children have developed thematurity and necessary life skills to begin an independent life in an unfamiliar Western society.They considered about whether the host country could provide international students a safeliving and learning environment. Several students’ mothers struggled emotionally at the thoughtof separating from their daughter or son for a long time if they would go to study abroad.However, after managing to overcome their worries and concerns, these students’ parentsendeavored to seek useful assistance from different sources to help their children successfully goto study in their desired overseas universities.It was not surprising to find that having work permits for international students in hostcountries was not considered by my interviewees to be a very important motivating factor. But,because of the high tuition and living costs in a developed Western country, having legal rightsto work as an international student in that country was regarded as a needed financial “backup”in case the students’ families were unable to pay for their overseas education in the event of anunexpected situation. Moreover, an off-campus work permit was thought of by these students as83a means to not only reduce their families’ financial burden but provide them a valuableopportunity to experience Western society outside the university campus.(4) All students believed that obtaining a higher education degree from a famous overseasuniversity would be quite beneficial to their post-university life.Although their middle-class parents may have a useful social network to help them get adecent job after graduating from a university, they wanted to endeavor to enhance their owncompetitiveness in the job market. Therefore, obtaining a higher education degree from an eliteoverseas university, such as UBC was believed by them as the most useful means to increasetheir advantages in their future job-searching process.It seems that my research participants thought that the type and quality of higher educationwould affect their future life very differently. First, they were concerned about the quality ofhigher education in China. Three students who had studied at different universities in China feltdisappointed with the learning circumstances and the regulated curricula in their universities:they had to study mandatory political courses that they didn’t have any interest in; some of theirinstructors were still instilling knowledge into students instead of inspiring them to be a self-motivated university student; they wanted to experience more effective teaching methods butmost of the time some of their instructors only relied on textbooks to teach students; they foundmany of their peers were learning only for a degree not for their true interests in an academic84field. Under such academic circumstances, they felt confused with the goal of their highereducation.However, there is not a transferrable system in current higher education sector in mainlandChina. Therefore, searching for a better university or program in an affordable Western countrywas almost the only possible choice for them to change their situation.S8:I really wanted to study in Beijing Language and Culture University but I lacked sixmarks to meet the admission requirements of Beijing Language and Culture University.Then, I went to study in Beijing Technology and Business University, but that wasoriginally my second choice. Later, I found the most competitive programs of thisuniversity are all about technology and commerce but I was enrolled in the “EnglishLanguage” program. Also, I didn't expect there is too much politics in our learningenvironment, such as the competition among my peers for joining the Communist Party, soI decided not to continue my study there. Going abroad seems to be the only choice for meat that time.Moreover, their status as a student of a non-key university made them worry about theirfuture job-seeking prospects. The reality in China is that the job-seeking process has becomemore and more difficult even for the graduates of the elite universities. The main reason is thedramatically increased number of senior high school graduates being enrolled in both public andprivate higher education institutions due to the university expansion policy. Another outstanding85factor that may influence the graduates’ future employment is the family network or social statusof their parents in current Chinese society. The university graduates whose families don’t havean influential social network may have fewer opportunities to obtain a good job, and thissituation is even true for the graduates of the best universities.S2:“I feel that it is hard for a university graduate to get a good job because theycan’t get help from a useful social network or their families have the relationship withinfluential persons in the society. Because there is such a large number of newly-graduated university students each year in China, I heard that getting a good job isbecoming more and more difficult for the students who only have a degree but don’t haveother useful assistance.”The other two students who graduated from a Sino-Canada co-sponsored senior high schoolprogram heard from different sources about the passive learning situation amongst many Chineseuniversity students. This gave them more confidence in their decision to study abroad. The onlystudent who didn’t write the entrance examination in China but finished regular senior highschool education had the same concerns as the above two students. They said the followingmentality is common among many Chinese university students: for a Chinese student, it isalmost the end of diligent learning after passing the entrance examination. University is a place86that is more for pleasure, relaxation and romance but not a place for working as hard as in highschool.S6:“I preferred to learn in a university where the knowledge is delivered to students instead ofbeing instilled into students. I don’t like to be taught by my teachers how to think aboutproblems because I need more freedom to have my own thoughts and developmy own ways to learn about different knowledge. I don’t want to be a passive recipient ofknowledge.”S4:My learning experience made my desires for studying abroad became stronger because Ifound many familiar senior students in my university were wasting their study time andwaiting for their graduation. I felt they couldn’t learn much useful knowledge but I didn’twant to be like them. At that time, I was thinking about why I need to learn in a universityand how I could live for four years like that …”In order to obtain useful information about overseas higher education institutions, myinterviewees and their parents spent a large amount of time searching for universities andacademic programs on the Internet, such as the websites of Times Higher Education WorldUniversity Rankings, the Maclean’s Annual University Rankings and the targeted institutions.They wanted to know about different universities’ history, worldwide rankings, programs andtuition fees, the number of international students and so on.87They went to attend the China International Education Exhibition Tour (CIEET) tocommunicate in person with representatives of different overseas post-secondary institutions.They discussed with their relatives or family friends who had been studying or living in theirdesired host countries so as to know more real-life information about these countries and highereducation institutions in these countries. They also seek assistance of professional internationaleducation agencies. They hired registered overseas education agents to help them make the bestchoice regarding the host country and study program according to their children’s academicbackground and family’s financial situation. To conclude, it was a time-consuming andcomplicated procedure to make a decision on the host country and institution.During their consideration and comparison processes, the quality of a higher educationinstitution is the most concerned aspect for the students and their families. The worldwiderankings of an institution in several popular university ranking websites were referenced as themost convenient and trustworthy information source. The rankings helped them make ajudgment on the education quality of a targeted institution. Students expected to learn currentpractical knowledge and skills from a university with a well-recognized research and teachingquality in the world. So, they would actually enhance their competitiveness in obtaining aprofessional job after graduation.88Except the perceived benefits for their future professional development with their overseashigher education degrees, they were also motivated to choose a country where there are relaxedimmigration policies for international students. Six out of nine interviewees felt that althoughthey had not been very clear about whether they would go back to work in China or stay in theirhost country after their graduation from UBC, the possibility of obtaining the host country’scitizenship or immigrant residency status would give them more convenience to travel betweenChina and the host country in this globalized world.To experience the Western culture and society is another important motivation for thesestudents. Because their generation was born after 1990s, they have been growing up in aninformation-explosion era in China. They could access different forms of media to search forneeded information and knowledge about the Western world. Besides that, they are living in thetimes when there is a continuing going-abroad trend among the college-age young people inmainland China. Therefore, it was not difficult for them to get information from theiracquaintances, friends or relatives who have study-abroad experience. However, having realexperience of other cultures seemed to be a more rewarding experience for them, because thiswould enhance their understanding of other cultures. They thought that their overseas study andliving experience would be a very valuable asset in assisting them in becoming a young personwith global vision and philosophy.89S9:“My Uncle graduated from UBC ten years ago. Actually, he has lived in Vancouver formore than ten years until this year. He told me that people living in Canada have morefreedom to follow their heart when need to make a choice in study or work. When I wasconsidering which university I should apply for, he gave me lots of useful recommendationsand information about different Canadian universities. Besides that, I got many interestinginformation about how people in Vancouver is living their life. I felt I would be able toexperience a new life style in Vancouver and that was quite exciting for me. ”Important voices in their decision-making process.During my research participants’ decision-making procedures, they referred to the opinions,suggestions and recommendations from different information sources (see Table 8). I found thatalthough all my interviewees have gone through a complicated procedure to reach their finaldecision, different voices have influenced their final choices of where to pursue undergraduatelearning.When being asked, “Whose opinions were important to you in your decision-makingprocess?” All of them said that their self-determination is the most decisive opinion for them.After these students’ self-determination, the decisions and suggestions of their parents is thesecond most influential information source for them.90Table 8 Types of Information SourcesSources of Various Voices Number of Respondents(N=9)self-determinationFamily members’ opinions and decisionFamily’s friends’ views/suggestionRelatives’ opinions/recommendationsOwn friends’ information/experience/suggestionsStudy-abroad service agent’s opinions/suggestions972549S5:“Father is father. His opinions were the most important opinions for me except my ownstrong desires to go abroad, because I knew he must have thought about my study-abroad decision in different perspectives and wanted to find out the best choice for me.”S2:I always most trust my parents’ ideas because I found they always could make a wisechoice for me at crucial moments in my life, such as where to attend junior highschool, when was the best timing for me to write TOEFL and so on. I trust their opinionsabout my higher education too. I’m their only child so I know theyare willing to do their best to help me have a brighter future.”My interviewees thought that the voices of their family relatives and friends were areliable information source too. So, they discussed their study-abroad plans with people whohave studied or are currently living in their preferred host countries. As to these students’ ownfriends who have study-abroad experience in different host countries of international students,91they informed them of Chinese students’ learning and living situations in their host countries.When these students decided to study in the same host countries, this information was especiallyuseful for them.International education agents’ opinions and suggestions were also looked at by myinterviewees as a dependable information source. Two students (S3 and S7) who finished theSino-Canadian senior high school education used the intermediary service of their schools: thestuff in their programs instructed them on how to apply for Canadian post-secondary institutionsand how to prepare the application materials for obtaining the study permit to Canada. Amongthe other seven students, five of them hired overseas education agents to get the admission offersof overseas institutions. Only two of them applied to UBC by themselves. But, all students gottheir student visa to Canada with the assistance of overseas education service agents.According to my interviewees’ experience, the contracted international education agentsusually made a list of the possible choices of host countries and institutions based on thestudent’s personal preferences, academic and family financial background. Then, they gave thestudent a list of recommended higher learning institutions so that they could choose where theywanted to study. My interviewees said that because their agents were working as the recruitmentrepresentatives or consultants of some overseas institutions, they preferred to suggest that theyapply for these institutions. Also, because their agents wanted to get their full commission, they92preferred to persuade them to apply for the institutions that are located in the countries that havemore relaxed policies on giving international students study permits.In the current international education market in China, only the registered intermediaryservice companies are permitted to provide Chinese citizens overseas education and visaapplication services. However, there were also overseas education agencies under illegaloperation in my interviewees’ cities. My research participants did not trust their qualificationsand doubted their professional ethics. Also, they were aware that they could refer to the list ofthe certified international education agencies on the website of the Ministry of Education ofChina so as to avoid hiring unqualified agents.Most students who have used the educational agencies’ services were satisfied with theirservices. They thought that the professional knowledge and experience of these agents played avery important role in obtaining a student visa to Canada because they did not know how toprepare complete application materials. However, one student who used the services of aregistered international education agency had a different experience. She was persuaded by heragent to apply for a private English training school located on the Point Grey Campus of UBC.Her agent told her this is a prerequisite for studying in the undergraduate program at UBC. Aftershe arrived at that school, she was required to pay the whole-year tuition fees in advance. Then,she found that this school was not an affiliated school of UBC as it had been claimed by her93agent. Her study experience in this school was not useful at all for her application to study atUBC but she could not get her tuition fees back.The Role of the Chinese Government’s PoliciesAs discussed in the Review of Related Literature, the Chinese government implementeddifferent policies on encouraging and supporting Chinese students to pursue overseas highereducation in the past several decades. In my study, I wanted to explore how these policies hadplayed a role in my interviewees’ decision-making process and the realization of their study-abroad plans.According to the answers of my interviewees, only two students told me that they had donesome research on the Internet in hopes that there will be financial aid for self-funded study-abroad students from the Chinese government. However, they did not meet the government’scriteria to obtain its subsidy as financial aid for privately-funded students is only available fordoctoral students. They said that they were not disappointed with this result. Because thestudents in mainland China already need to pay for their higher education, they did not think thattheir overseas higher education would get financial assistance from the government.The rest seven students were surprised to know there are policies on encouraging Chinesestudents to undertake self-financed foreign study. They, including the above two studentspresented that they didn’t care if there are government policies facilitating their study-abroad94activities or not, because they and their families considered their study-abroad decision as apersonal or a family’s choice. Therefore, they thought that their study-abroad decisions did nothave close relationship with the government.They expressed that they were not so interested in knowing about government policies onChinese students’ overseas study. Even their contracted education agents didn’t mention anypolicies from the government to them. Several of them said, “if there is no financial aid for usfrom the government, what is the meaning of encouraging us to study abroad with writtenpolicies?”S2:“Encouraging policies? Is there this kind of policy from the government? Why should Iwant to know about that? My parents and I didn’t feel it is necessary to know about thepolicies since they have financial abilities to pay for my four-year study abroad.”S8:“We didn’t consider about the policies at all when I was preparing for studying abroad,because my study is self-funded. And, my agent also has never mentioned any policies tome. I just heard about these policies from you…”Push and Pull Factors for Self-Funded StudentsMajor push and pull Factors.Based on my interview results, I found push and pull factors have a combined influence onthe students’ and their families’ decisions on undertaking an overseas higher education (see95Table 9). Different push and pull factors functioned as the more or less influential motives fordifferent interviewees and their families.Table 9 Push and Pull Factors for Students and Their FamiliesPush factors in the home countryFailed to study in an ideal universityPerceived lower quality of higher education in ChinaSelf strong desire for a different higher education and culture experienceA middle-class family backgroundOther persons’ supports and recommendationsAssistance of the study-abroad intermediary agentsAnticipated benefits for future life and professionIntensive competition for university graduates to find a job in a highly-populated countryPull factors from the host institution and countryA second chance to get in a worldwide well-known universityAttractive cultural and societal environment of a host countryAffordable study and living costs in a host countryA perceived more beneficial higher education and self-directive life in a host countryRelaxed government policies for international students: visa, work permit and immigration possibilityFamiliar people’s satisfactory study and life experience in a host countyExpected more opportunities to have a better future life in a less-populated countryWeight of push and pull factors.In accordance with the decision-making procedures of my interviewees, the existing pushfactors were more crucial motivating factors for them.Two students (S3 and S7) completed senior high school in a Sino-Canadian cosponsoredprogram. They and their families chose to undertake overseas undergraduate education beforebeginning their senior high school learning. The reason for making such an early decision wasthat they didn’t meet the admission requirements to study in a key senior high school in theircities. And then, they thought that the low teaching quality in the non-key schools would make it96hard for them to perform well in the entrance examination. Thus, they felt that it was wise tostudy in a Sino-foreign cosponsored senior high school program because they thought that it wasthe first step for them to undertake good-quality overseas higher education.Another motivating factor for these two students is they have been learning English as amandatory language course since the primary school. So, they believed that it would not be verydifficult for them to study in a senior high school program with English as the instructivelanguage. When it was time for them to consider where to attend a university, their Englishlanguage proficiency was a powerful pull factor motivating them to choose English-speakingcountries as their study destination. The other pull factors are as follows: the admissionrequirements and study environment in a targeted institution, study costs in the host countries,the social environment of the host countries and even the weather of their desired studydestinations.For the other seven students, their study and life situation before deciding to go abroad werethe factors that inspired them to seek an overseas undergraduate learning.Most of them only wanted to study in English-Speaking countries because they have beenlearning English since their primary school. When choosing where to pursue their undergraduateeducation, the United States and Canada were the top two choices of study destination. Britain,Australia and New Zealand were their second choices or back-up choices in case they couldn’t97get the student visa to the United States or Canada. Among these three countries, Britain andAustralia were more preferable than New Zealand. Only one student regarded Korea and Japanas her first choice and North America as the second choice. There was one student whoconsidered either the University of Hong Kong or an elite institution in North America as hermost preferred study destination (see Figure 10).Figure 10 Desired Host Countries of Nine StudentsSince my interviewees chose to go to study in Canada, the three most important pull factorsthat affected them to make such a decision are as follows: The comparatively lower tuition feesof international students, the stable and multicultural social environment and higher possibilitiesto get the study visa. Although Britain is still a popular study destination for Chinese students,the much higher tuition fees for international students prevented my interviewees from choosingto study there. All of my interviewees didn’t consider going to other European countries becausethey did not want to have to learn another foreign language at such a mature age.98Australia and New Zealand were chosen by my interviewees as two back-up studydestinations, because they and their families believed that it would be easier to get the visa tothese two countries and the tuition fees in these two countries were also cheaper than that ofBritain and the United States. Only one student had regarded Korea or Japan as her first choiceof study destination because she preferred to live and study in a society with an Asian culture,but her family members suggested that she go to study to Canada. The reason behind suggestingthis was that they believed that the quality of Canadian universities is more worthy of theirfinancial investment in her higher education. Besides that, Canada is also one of her mostfavorite study destinations if considering her academic background and her family’s financialabilities. So, she decided to follow her parent’s advice to apply for Canadian universities.One student had considered applying to both the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and UBCas her first choice of study destinations, but later she gave up her choice to study at HKU due tothe following reasons: there is not a big difference between the worldwide rankings of HKU andUBC; HKU has very challenging admission requirements for Chinese students from mainlandChina; Hong Kong is infamous for crowded and very expensive living conditions. Her mother’sfriends who have lived in Vancouver for many years suggested that it is better for her to study atUBC and then she could have someone take care of her in a foreign country. After furtherconsideration of the advantages and disadvantages of studying at HKU or UBC, her parents and99she decided to apply to UBC. Even if she had not succeeded in getting UBC’s offer after herfirst-time application, other Canadian universities that are among the top 50 universities in theworld would still be her most intended institutions.S2:“I found some students went to study in a unqualified overseas post-secondary school butwhen they came back to China, their foreign degrees didn’t help them find a good job,so choosing a university with good reputation is really important for my future study.”S7:“I only thought about applying for the Top100 universities. Since my parents wouldspend lots of money on my overseas study, what could be the meaning for us if I couldn’tgo to study in a well-known overseas university? You know, it is not difficult for me tostudy in a university in China.”In conclusion, my interviewees first chose their host countries and then made a selectionof the different higher learning institutions in that country. I found that they all aimed to berecruited in one of the Top 50 or at least Top100 universities with reasonable study expenditure.Their motivation behind this preference is that the worldwide ranking of an overseas higherlearning institution still plays a significant influential pull factor for these students.100Chapter 5 Discussion and ConclusionThe Effect of the Internationalization of Higher Education on Chinese Students’ Choices ofHigher EducationKnight (1999) states that the internationalization of higher education affects the worldwidehigher education in two ways: the international and intercultural characteristics in domesticinstitutions and the cross-border education outside of a country’s jurisdictional border. InChina’s case, the internationalization of higher education has influenced the reform anddevelopment of higher education in both ways: opening the domestic education market tooverseas education service providers and developing international education in domesticinstitutions. They are two key components of China’s fundamental opening and reform policysince the earlier 1980s (Zhang, 2009, p.28).Since China joined WTO in 2001, China made the commitment to open its educationalmarket to foreign educational providers under the framework of the GATS in order to make useof foreign education resources to promote her domestic education reform (Li, 2009, p.14).According to the statistics of the Ministry of Education, China, more than 800 Sino-foreigncosponsored institutions and programs have been established in 28 provinces by the end of 2004(Li, 2009,p.18). On the other hand, approximately 1.3 million Chinese students from mainlandChina undertook higher education abroad in the past decade (MOE, 2010); Driven by both101economic and non-economic rationales, the major receiving countries of international studentsconsider China as one of the most prospective source countries over a long period of time,especially the advanced OECD countries. The reason is because the internationalization ofhigher education will be further strengthened and expanded in the worldwide higher educationinstitutions in the 21 century (Bodycott, 2009, p351).Therefore, since science and education have become the priorities in China’s developmentschemes in the 21st century, different scholars agree that permitting overseas educationalprovision on China’s soil and encouraging students to study abroad have beneficial effects onfostering more needed human resources for China (Li, 2009,p.)Living under a worldwide scope of the internationalization of higher education, myresearch participants were motivated and facilitated by this powerful external environment.Moreover, due to the implementation of the university expansion policy in Chinese highereducation system, they had more choices of undertaking higher education both in and out ofChina. Although the Sino-foreign cosponsored higher education institutions or programs arethought as the necessary supplement to meet the huge demand of higher education in mainlandChina, studying abroad seems more attractive to Chinese students. The relevant statistics showthat the number of Chinese students attending Sino-foreign cosponsored higher education is102incomparable with the number of students going abroad to carry out higher education (Li, 2009,p.18).Table 9 indicates the pull and push factors (see p.75-76) motivating my researchparticipants to study abroad. Based on this table, I found that the quality of overseas highereducation acts as the most powerful pull factor for my interviewees. Therefore, Canada waschosen by my research participants as their first choice for their host countries. It is because ofher reputation of higher education and comparatively lower study costs compared with otherpreferred study destinations. All my interviewees endeavored to be enrolled in one of the Top 50or at least a Top 100 university because their families’ social and economic class in Chinesesociety motivated them to have higher expectations for their higher education attainments.Therefore, UBC that was thought by them as an elite university in Canada was chosen as theirmost ideal host institution.Recently, Canada became the sixth largest receiving country of Chinese internationalstudents (MOE, 2010). Previous researchers state that the economic benefits are regarded as themajor rationale motivating the host countries of international students to support internationalstudent mobility. Therefore, the host countries put great effort into supporting theinternationalization of their tertiary level institutions. International students in Canada areestimated to contribute more than $6.5 billion to the Canadian economy every year. The103Citizenship and Immigration Department of Canada (CIC, Canada) announced that China hasbeen the top source country of international students for Canada since 2009 (CIC Website, 2010).Canadian government has been “stepping up more efforts to recruit more qualified Chinesestudents to study in Canada” (CIC Website, 2010).My research participants followed the steps of the previous study-abroad students fromChina to choose North America, the Great Britain and Australia as their most preferred studydestinations (see Figure 10, p.77). Without doubt, the Canadian government’ policies oninternational education facilitated the internationalization of Canadian higher education system.Thus, it is comparatively easier for Chinese students to get the study permit to come to study inCanada. The off-campus work permit and preferable immigration policies for formerinternational students are two most influential pull factors from the Canadian government as well.Canadian higher education institutions have been enhancing their internationalcharacteristics in their academic and research fields. The enhanced internationalization of thehigher education institutions attracts more and more Chinese students to study on their campuses.The above pull strength provides my research participants with attainable choices of highereducation instead of only having to compete with their peers in China in order to secure a seat indomestic post-secondary institutions.104Based on my interviewees’ responses to their knowing about relevant government policiesconcerning Chinese students’ overseas higher education, the interviewees did not think theChinese government’s relevant policies had direct influences on their overseas study. However,they took it for granted that they could have free choices of where to undertake higher education.Except their take-it-for-granted awareness of being permitted to study abroad by the government,other involved persons who had influences to a different extent on their decision-making processalso had the same consciousness.Seeking a Better Future through Overseas Higher EducationIn order to foster more talent to achieve sustainable economic development, Chinesegovernment adopted the university expansion policy to create more seats for senior high schoolgraduates to achieve higher education. However, the competition for entering into keyuniversities has been understood to be tougher by my research participants in current China. It isthe reason why my three interviewees who had attended different universities in Chinareconsidered where to finish their undergraduate education. It is not because they didn’t get in auniversity in China but because there were no other ways for them to seek more desirableuniversity education within the current higher education system in mainland China.If based on the fact that the Chinese higher learning institutions enrolled an average of 20%of senior high school graduates who wrote the entrance examination each year from 1999 to1052009, some scholars believe that higher education in China has transformed from elite educationto mass education (refer to Table 3 and followed texts on p.30). But, although the value of auniversity degree has not been lowered in current Chinese society, the disparities in the quality ofdifferent types of higher education institutions became a concern for the interviewed studentsand their families.Some researchers exploring the studying-abroad trend among the university-age Chinesestudents point out that some going-abroad Chinese students went to study abroad after they failedthe national entrance examination. However, my research findings proved that it was alsodiscouraging for the winners of the entrance examination when they found that the employmentrate of newly-graduated university students remained at a low level. Approximately 30% ofuniversity graduates and advanced vocational school graduates managed to find a job in 2009despite the continuing booming economy in mainland China (Liu, 2009, p.19). Furthermore, theyheard from different information sources that the employment of university graduates hasremained a constant headache for the Chinese government.On the other hand, the employers in China are looking for hiring university graduates withrequired employability instead of only having a university degree. Because it is hard for them toassess the quality of a student’s higher education, a stable reputation of a higher learninginstitution seems to be a reliable standard of judgment. Thus, keeping these beliefs in mind, the106employers place the students who graduate from non-key universities in a more disadvantageoussituation in their job-seeking process.Although some of my interviewees were the envy of their peers as one of the 20% of thewinners in the entrance examination, they were concerned about their comparatively lowercompetitiveness in the future job-market due to a degree from regular universities in China.Besides that, as the members of a highly self-motivated generation, they developed a morecritical point of view on their higher education quality. If they can’t transfer to study in a moredesirable university, they started to search for other possible ways to obtain a more rewardinghigher education.Although the personal characteristics of these nine students are different, a cross-borderhigher education is the most accessible means for them to change their discouraging situations.This choice was also the choice of many other Chinese students in their generation. This washelpful to understand the motivations of my interviewees who made efforts to apply for the top50 universities in the OECD member countries. They aimed to get a degree with a worldwidewell-recognized quality. Therefore, when they return to China, they may be in a more superiorsituation compared with the situation if they would graduate from non-key universities in China.Thus, it is time for both policy-makers and other insiders in the Chinese higher educationsystem to consider how the expanded higher learning system better serves the students’ learning107needs and other expectations and how to make their higher education more productive fordeveloping required employability for their future professional development. The expandeduniversity campus does not necessarily provide students expected higher learning experience.Educational Attainment is Not Only for Personal AchievementsAlthough the choice of undertaking overseas higher education functioned as the initial pushfactor for my research participants, the realization of their study-abroad plans was definitely notonly the students’ personal decision. The generation born after 1990 in China has often beendescribed by the Chinese media as a more self-centered and less collective generation whenbeing compared with their previous generations. Despite the fact that my interviewees firstlymade a decision on doing overseas undergraduate education, they considered their parents’ viewsand suggestions as other most reliable and trustable information sources. To a certain extent, theyrelied on their parents’ life experience, knowledge and information to make a better choice ofstudy destination. From this perspective, they kept a very close relationship with their parentsinstead of only believing their own thoughts and choices.When being asked about their plans after UBC, most of them didn’t only think about howtheir own life would be more promising in the future. They wanted to stay close to their familiesand take the responsibility of looking after their parents when they age. They consider this to bea factor which will influence their decisions on whether to return to China or remain in Canada.108Five of my interviewees stated that they intended to immigrate to Canada. However, if theywere to be separated from their families for a long time, they would not apply for immigrationresidency status no matter how successful they would be in finding work or pursuing furtherstudies in Canada after their graduation from UBC. Moreover, even if they successfullyimmigrate to Canada in the future, they would not stay in Canada if their parents would not liketo live in a totally different cultural and social environment. Most of my interviewees believe thattaking care of their parents when they need it, is the reciprocation to their parents’ raising andgenerous investment in their educational achievements. In this respect, this group of youngChinese students was not only concerned about their personal preferences for their future livesbut still maintains and respects the traditionally valued merits in current Chinese society:educational accomplishment, the filial piety to parents and a united family.As of December, 2011, the Canadian government began to issue “ the Parents andGrandparents Super Visa” of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, which grants theimmigrants’ parents and grandparents legal rights to visit Canada up to two years without theneed to renew their visitor visa (CIC Website, 2011). Considering the importance of the familyreunion for my interviewed Chinese students, I believe this new policy will further increase theattractiveness of Canada to Chinese international students.109Attractiveness of “China Opportunity Theory” for Study-Abroad StudentsThe value of an overseas higher education degree.As written in Results, my interviewees anticipated a more promising future by obtaininghigh-quality overseas higher education. As an international student coming from China,returning to China is surely a part of their future life planning. Looking back to the statistics inFigure 8, there was a sharp increase in the returning rate of study-abroad Chinese students anddue to the rapid rise in the number of returnees, many returnees didn't manage to find a suitablejob. They claim that an overseas degree has not had the same value as before for Chineseemployers (p.81). A new word was even coined by Chinese people to describe unemployedreturnees’ dilemma:海待 (Hai Dai: returnees waiting for a job).My interviewees are inspired by many famous returnees’ accomplishments in political,economic and other areas in Chinese society to go to study abroad. However, they worried aboutwhen they go back to work in China, whether their overseas higher education will bring themexpected employment opportunities. That is a shared concern for them.Because in the current job-market in China it is difficult for returnees having an overseasdegree from an unrecognized or unknown higher learning institution to have their highereducation credentials accepted and valued by the employers in China. Also, the employers inmainland China have gained more experience in hiring a study-abroad student by identifying the110quality of their foreign degrees. The reason is because of the large reverse flow of study-abroadChinese students in the job-market in recent years.Due to the discrepancy between the number of job-seekers and work positions in China, theuniversity graduate with an overseas degree may not be in an advantageous situation if his or herdegree is not trusted or respected by the employers. But, my interviewees believed that a degreefrom a top 50 university, such as UBC, will make a big difference when they try to get employedin China after graduating from UBC. It also explains the reasons why the worldwide top 50 ortop 100 universities have the strongest pull power for Chinese international students. Theincreasing number of Chinese international students from mainland China at UBC where myinterviewees are currently studying is a good example in this aspect. According to the statisticsfrom UBC, the Chinese international students have become the largest international studentcommunity since 2009 (UBC facts and figures, 2011).The effect of the “China opportunity theory”.Researchers claim that as one of the most powerful newly-industrialized country in theworld, China has been increasing its attractiveness to the overseas talent pool including thestudy-abroad students. The returning tide of study-abroad students in China is believed by theseresearchers as the effects of the “China opportunity theory” on the returnees’ choices betweenremaining in the host country and returning to their mother country (Gao, 2003; Chen, 2003;111Han and Zweig, 2010). The increasing number of study-abroad students in the past several yearshas proven the claimed effects of the “Chinese opportunity theory”. These researchers claim thatthis reverse flow of study-abroad students does not have a close relationship with the returnees’patriotism; instead, it is a rational flow.Three of my research participants expressed that they will return to work in China becausethey believed that China has a more dynamic economy and therefore, there will be moreopportunities for them to use their knowledge and skills. They also felt more comfortable to livein a familiar cultural and societal environment. Six of them were thinking about finding a job inCanada after graduating from UBC and may also apply for immigration after obtaining a stableemployment in Canada. Only one student planned to start a master’s level study at UBC becausehe thought that a master’s degree in his major will bring him better academic and careerprospects in the future. However, in the long run, the above seven students aim to return to Chinaas a more accomplished returnee, not only as a returned study-abroad student without any realwork experience in Canada.Also, in accordance with their beliefs, they did not think that there is a necessaryrelationship between patriotism and returning to China or remaining in Canada. They said if theychoose to live in Canada after their graduation from UBC, they will be willing to makecontributions to China’s economic and scientific development in different ways.112One of the important goals of their overseas higher education is to increase theircompetitiveness for obtaining better professional development in their future lives. But, they donot completely separate their future career achievements with their cultural and societalenvironmental preferences that obviously will affect their choices of being a returnee or a“skilled immigrant” into their host country (Trembley, 2005; Gribble, 2008).Therefore, it is hard to say that the study-abroad Chinese students’ preference to live in theChinese society has nothing to do with their patriotism. Patriotism has been a traditional valueupheld by many generations of Chinese people. As a member of the young generation in thecurrent Chinese society, patriotism makes them recognize their responsibilities and possiblecontributions to establish a more developed China in the 21 century. In conclusion, although itseems that the attractiveness of the “China opportunity theory” is regarded as the most influentialfactor that resulted in the returning tide of study-abroad Chinese students, their future choices ofresiding and work place are also influenced by other factors.Searching for more Accessible Support for Privately-Funded Overseas StudyBased on the research findings, the supporting policies on overseas study from the Chinesegovernment were not an important motivator for my interviewees’ decision on studying abroad.Their answers to the role of Chinese government’s policies in their decision-making processshow that they were not much concerned about how the relative government policies work for113them. If there are any useful government policies for overseas studies, two of the students whotried to search for financial aid for self-funded students did not find any. Several of them havetaken part in the International Education Exhibit that is organized by the Ministry of Educationin China.My interviewees believed that the investment in their overseas higher education was morerelated with a personal decision and a family’s financial situation but not with the financialsupport from the government. I think that their mentality was mainly related to their familybackground (refer to Figure 9 on p.64-65). All of my interviewees claimed that they came froman upper or middle-class urban family. And, most of their parents were working in upper-leveloccupations so they could afford their expensive overseas study. That was the reason why theyhad a lack of interest in knowing about relevant government policies before coming to study toCanada. This also explained why the work permit for international students in Canada was not avery influential factor for their choosing to come to study in Canada.However, there existed the widening inequality in access to higher education for studentsfrom different regions, social economic classes and ethnic groups after the implementation of theuniversity expansion policy in current China. Thus, if these students were raised in a familybelonging to a lower social and economic class or in an under-developed region in China, itwould have been impossible for them to study in an overseas elite university. Therefore, it114showed that the advantageous groups in society had obtained necessary social and economiccapital to reproduce their power in their next generation.According to the Chinese government’s policies on privately-financed overseas study ofChinese citizens, the Chinese government provides Chinese students a macro-level policyenvironment. Based on the research participants’ awareness of the relevant policies from Chinesegovernment, it seems that these policies were not perceived by them to have direct influence ontheir decision on studying abroad. However, their consciousness of having the freedom to chooseto undertake domestic or overseas higher education shows that these policies had influenced theirstudy-abroad plans and activities in an indirect way.It is worth noticing that few policies aim to give more practical assistance to self-fundedstudents. Only the outstanding doctoral student may meet the criteria to get moderate financialaid from the government. Therefore, for the students who want to undertake an overseasundergraduate education, the costs seem to the responsibility of the student’s family.I think that the lack of the government’s financial aid for study-abroad studentscorresponds to the situation in the higher education sector in mainland China. Since 1997, allstudents attending public universities are required to pay tuition fees because of thedecentralization of financial aid in Chinese post-secondary institutions across the whole nation(Li and Xing, 2010). So, it was not surprising to find that my interviewees were expected to rely115on themselves and their families to pay for their overseas higher education. There are nofinancial resources for the poor but talented students in China to pursue overseas highereducation under the current policies on Chinese students’ study-abroad activities from theChinese government.However, the fact is that the self-funded study-abroad Chinese students constitute 90% ofthe total number of study-abroad students in the past decade. With regard to the “brain drain” to“brain circulation”, more than one million privately-funded Chinese students consist of thelargest proportion of overseas talents. If it is necessary for China to gain more overseas talents tocontribute to her innovation imperatives in different key development schemes in the newcentury, more accessible assistance for outstanding privately-funded study-abroad studentsshould be put into consideration by the Chinese government.Recommendations for the Chinese students intending to Study AbroadAlthough my interviewees’ study life in Canada was not always smooth and comfortable,all of them didn’t regret their decision to study abroad. They were satisfied with their learningexperience and teaching quality at UBC. UBC also provided them plentiful on-campus activitiesand events to broaden their views about the world. In addition to the learning outcomes, they feltthat as a young person, it is very meaningful for them to become more open-minded and toleranttowards other cultures, values and ideologies.116Referring to their unsatisfied experiences at UBC, the students mentioned that it wasdifficult for them to mingle and make friends with local students due to different growing- upexperience and cultural habits. As a result, most of their social life took place within the Chineseinternational student or Asian student communities. Based on their living experience in Canada,they believe that independent life skills, self-discipline and diligent study are the three mostnecessary skills for study-abroad students to reach their educational goals in Canada. Thus, theythought that it was not objective to recommend or not recommend other Chinese students tostudy abroad because they believed that a student’s personal characteristics are the mostimportant factors for deciding if it is right for him or her to live and study without parents orother people’s guidance and assistance.However, it can be concluded that it is never an easy road for Chinese students to becomea successful study-abroad student. There are both sorrows and joys in their overseas study life.Some factors may result from their personal characteristics, and the others may be brought aboutby the learning and living environment for international students in the host country.ConclusionIn this study, I aimed to find the motivations of a group of Chinese students choosing tostudy abroad and how the existing push factors in China and the pull factors in the host countriesand higher education institutions influenced students and their families’ decision on undertaking117overseas higher education. Because the research results were based on the interviews of a smallnumber of participants, they may not contain sufficient information to explain the factors drivinga large number of Chinese international students to go and study abroad.I believe my research findings should be more appropriate for interested scholars,researchers, educational professionals or students to know how different factors inspired myinterviewees to decide to study abroad after the enforcement of the university expansion policyin China. On the other hand, due to a limited period of time for doing this study, I did not recruitmore male Chinese international students to attend this study. Thus, this study didn’t reflect themotivations rooted in the gender group.As an educational graduate student who has higher education experience both in Chinaand Canada, my interests in the internationalization of higher education and its impact onChinese students’ choice of higher education will continue to be my future research focus. I wantto explore what kinds of obstacles are faced by study-abroad Chinese students during theiroverseas learning experience and what are the sources behind these obstacles.I am also interested in interviewing another group of study-abroad Chinese students inmy future research: the students who chose to transfer from the Chinese post-secondaryinstitutions to study in overseas higher learning institutions. I want to investigate deeper into118finding what factors inspired them to make such a decision and how they went through theirdecision process.119ReferencesAssociation of International Educators. (2010). 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What are your plans after you complete your studies at UBC? Why?8. Would you recommend your friends or other people go abroad for their higher educationstudies? Why?After the interview, I will ask my research participant whether he or she has anyquestions or concerns about my interview, and will inform them that I will email them thetranscripts or notes of the interview to check its accuracy within the next week.129Appendix 2Letter for the Third Party RecruitmentDear Chinese International Students at UBC:My name is Qiu Qiong Jiang, a M.A student studying in the Department of EducationalStudies at UBC. As a requirement of my M.A program, I’m doing a study exploring the Chineseinternational students’ motivations and anticipation to pursue overseas higher education. I’mdoing this study under the supervision of Dr. Kjell Rubenson in the Department of EducationalStudies, UBC. Because you’re one of Chinese international students who are currently learningat UBC, I’m contacting you for asking you to help me recruit perspective research participantsamong the Chinese international students at UBC for my study. I’m looking for eight to tenChinese international undergraduate students aged between 19 and 22 to participate in my study.According to the Third Party Recruitment policies regulated by UBC, I need to ask you toobtain the permissions from your contacts who would like to participate in my study. If youagree to assist me doing my study, please distribute the following Introductory Letter forPerspective Research Subjects to your contacts so that they will obtain more information aboutmy study.If you have any questions or concerns about my study, please contact me. I would bedelighted to have your reply within the next week.Yours SincerelyDr. Kjell RubensonQiu Qiong Jiang130Appendix 3Introductory Letter for Perspective Research SubjectsDear Chinese International Students:My name is Qiu Qiong Jiang. I’m a Master’s student in Adult Education in theDepartment of Educational Studies at UBC. As a part of requirements of my Master’s program,I’m doing a study exploring the Chinese international students’ motivations and anticipation topursue overseas higher education. My research supervisor is Dr. Kjell Rubenson in theDepartment of Educational Studies, UBC. I’m writing to you to invite you to attend my studybecause I’m looking for ten to eight Chinese international students who are aged between 18 and22 and currently studying at UBC as my research subjects. I aim to investigate what factorsmotivated you to choose to seek overseas higher education, how well you knew and tookadvantage of the Chinese government’s policies on foreign study to facilitate your study-abroadplan before you went abroad, and how your decision on undertaking overseas higher educationwere influenced by the push forces in China and the pull forces from your desirable hostcountries and higher learning institutions.If you agree to participate in my study, you will be asked to do a face-to-face and one-on-one interview with me on UBC Point Gray campus or other places at your convenience. The dateand time will be negotiated with you. The individual interview will last about 40 to 50 minutes.After getting your permission, your interview will be audio-recorded for the following dateanalysis and interpretation. Please be assured that all information about your interview will bekept strictly confidential, and only my supervisory committee members and I will have access tothese information in accordance with the Confidentiality polices regulated by UBC. You canterminate your participation in my study at any time. As a small thank-you gift, you will get a tendollar Starbucks Card for your participation. You would not be required to return it to me if youwere to withdraw from my study.In order to recruit my research participants, I asked several familiar Chinese internationalstudents to be the Third Party to assist me distributing this letter to you. If you can participate inmy study, I would be very grateful to obtain your agreement within the next week. After I getyour permission, I will email you a consent form to be signed by you for confirming your131participation in my study. If you have any questions or concerns about my study, I can bereached at the above-mentioned email address or call number.Yours trulyDr. Kjell RubensonQiu Qiong Jiang132Appendix 4Chinese International Students at the University of British ColumbiaConsent Form for Research SubjectsPrinciple Investigator:Dr. Kjell Rubenson, Professor, Department of Educational Studies, UBC.Co-Investigator:Qiu Qiong Jiang, M.A student, Department of Educational Studies, UBC.Background:Last decade saw an unprecedented demand for overseas higher education among mainlandChinese students (Ministry of Education of China, 2010). The statistics shows that 1.62 millionChinese students in mainland China went to study in more than 100 foreign countries andregions from 1978 to 2009, and approximately 1.32 million of the study-abroad studentsundertook overseas higher education between 1999 to 2009 (MOE, 2010). Among these students,over 90% are self-funded students. Till the end of 2008, one million mainland Chinese studentswere still studying in 100 different countries (The Sixth Press Conference of MOE, 2009). Chinahas become the largest source country of international students among an approximately threemillion international students studying outside of their origin countries around the world (IEE,2010).Based on the prediction in relevant literature and the Ministry of Education of China (2009),there is still great space for international education providers to attract more Chinese students tostudy on their campuses, so it is meaningful to explore the factors influencing Chinese studentson deciding to undertake foreign higher education.Purpose:Based on the going-abroad tide among mainland Chinese students, this study will explore whatfactors motivated students to pursue foreign higher education. You are one of Chineseinternational students at UBC and aged between 18 and 22, so you’re being invited to take part inthis research study.133Study procedure:If you consent to participate in this research, you will take part in a face to face and one-on-oneinterview. The date and time will be negotiated with you. Your interview will last about 40 to 50minutes on UBC Point Gray Campus or at other places at your convenience. You can choose toanswer my interview question either in English or in Chinese. With your permission, theinterview will be audio-taped so as to help us do later data analysis and interpretation in thisstudy. If you only consent to be interviewed but don’t want to have your interview audio-taped,your request will be accommodated. The transcript of your interview will be emailed to you forchecking its accuracy.Potential risk:Since all my perspective interviewees are adults (18-22 years old), and are responsible for theirstatements and actions. There are not foreseen risks for them to attend my study.Potential benefits:Your participation in this study will help extend current understandings of Chinese internationalstudents’ motivations and anticipation to seek foreign higher education.Confidentiality:Your identity will be kept strictly confidential. I will code you as Student 1 or Student 2. Thiscoding number will be used for identifying all information about you in this study. Yourinterview transcript will be kept in a locked filing cabinet and the recorded data of your interviewwill be stored in the recorder, a password-protected computer file folder and flash disk. Withregard to the access to all stored data, only my supervisory committee members: Dr. Rubenson,Dr. Mazawi and Dr. Walter and I will have access to your data. Your signed consent form will bestored separately from other data in a locked filing cabinet to protect your identity. According tothe policies of UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board, all data records will be kept in a safemanner for five years.Remuneration/Compensation:As a thank-you gift, you will be given a ten-dollar Starbucks card. However, your remunerationwill not be dependent on your completion of this study. If you want to terminate your interviewat any time before completing it, you will not be asked to give back your Starbucks gift card.During the interview, light refreshment and drinks will be provided.134Contact for information about the study:If you have any concerns or questions about your interview and this consent form, please feelfree to contact with Dr. Kjell Rubenson Qiu Qiong Jiang.Contact for concerns about rights of research subjects:If you have any concerns about your treatment or rights as a research subject, you may contactthe Research Subject Information Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at 604 822 8598or if long distance e-mail to or toll free 1-877-822-8598.Consent:Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you may refuse to participate orwithdraw from the study at any time without needing to return your remuneration. Your datamay be withdrawn at any time prior to the completion of the analysis.Your signature below indicates that you have received a copy of this consent form for your ownrecords.You consent to participate in this study.Subject signature DateYou consent to have your face to face interview audio-taped by the researcher.Subject signature Date


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