Two-Way Flows of Higher Education Students in Mainland China in a Global Market: Trends, Characteristics and Problems

  • Mei LiEmail author
  • Yongjun Zhang
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 36)


Global flows of students in higher education are growing at an unprecedented pace and sustained scale. This has far-reaching economic and academic implications for sending and receiving countries, institutions and students themselves. China is one of the largest countries which actively engages in both sending students abroad and receiving international students from all over of the world. As an emerging economic and political force in the new century, China is moving increasingly from a peripheral position to a more central one in the global network of international student mobility. This chapter first introduces theories of international student mobility. It then portrays the historical trajectory of China’s sending students abroad and attracting international students since the open door policy began in 1978. Between 1978 and 2005, the total number of international students studying in China was an estimated 871,000, while 933,000 Chinese studied abroad. The chapter compares the development characteristics of international students in China with that of Chinese students abroad, by main destination and source countries, the level of study, the field of subjects, the financial sources and so on. Having been one of the largest exporters and a modest importer of students for several decades, in a globalizing era China is now witnessing a more balanced development with two-way flows of students. Influxes and outflows of students are influenced by geopolitical, economic, social and cultural elements. The chapter briefly compares the similarities and differences of features of the two groups of students, and analyses the problems and prospects of two-way flows.


High Education International Student World Trade Organization Chinese Student High Education System 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Higher Education, School of Education SciencesEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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