Wed 10 Oct 18
A new study challenges stereotypes about Chinese students and finds they have more in common with European students than commonly assumed.
‘Bright Futures’ surveyed over 7,000 students, generating a representative sample, comparing and contrasting the experiences of students from the People’s Republic of China who have moved to the UK or Germany to study, with those who have opted to stay at home for their higher education. Home students in the UK and Germany were also surveyed.
Principal Investigator Professor Yasemin Soysal, from our Department of Sociology, said: “Chinese international students should be first and foremost viewed as students, rather than as representing a distinctive national population with common characteristics based on their origins.
“Our survey provides rare representative data on one of the most important flows of international students globally – from China to the UK and Germany. Among students moving for higher education, students from China are the largest group from any one country, making up over 20 % of the global total.
"We found that students have similar aspirations the world over – they go to university not just to enhance their career prospects, but with broader expectations of realising their worth as a person, gaining new experiences, and meeting different people.
“Furthermore, we find that academic and social backgrounds of Chinese students in Europe are much more heterogenous than previously assumed. Universities should ensure
that their policies and practices do not make unwarranted assumptions about this group of students, but approach them as individual students with varied needs, backgrounds and interests, just as they would for their home students.”
A report for the higher education sector on the project, ‘In search of excellence: Chinese students on the move’ will be launched on 10 October in London. Other key findings are:
Following the report’s UK launch at the Great Britain China Centre in London, the findings will be presented at events for the higher education sector in Edinburgh, Brussels and Hong Kong this autumn.
The ‘Bright Futures’ research was conducted by Yasemin Soysal and Dorothee Schneider, University of Essex; Li Qiang and Liu Jingming, Tsinghua University, China; Thomas Faist, Bielefeld University, Germany; Sophia Woodman, University of Edinburgh; and Hector Cebolla-Boado, National Distance Education University, Spain.
Funding for the study came from the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the DFG (German Research Council) and the National Natural Science Foundation (China).