Brain Drain or Brain Gain: A Growing Trend of Chinese International Students Returning Home for Development

Ka Ho MOK*, Youliang ZHANG, Wei BAO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


International education and international student mobility are becoming increasingly popular in the era of globalization, which has triggered discussions on brain drain, brain gain, and brain circulation. Nonetheless, international student mobility has been significantly not only by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic but also by the new geopolitics clearly adversely influencing the diplomatic relationships between China and the USA with its allies in the West. In view of the growing complexity closely related to how international politics affecting international learning and student mobility, there is a reverse trend of Chinese international students choosing to return to China in recent years against the worsening relations between China and some major powers in the West. This chapter sets out against the broader political economy context to examine the intentions of Chinese high-level talents graduating from major universities overseas to return to mainland China to pursue their career development. More specifically, this chapter examines the high-level talents’ overall feelings about China and foreign countries from their perspectives. Special attention is given to high-level talents’ preferred institutions and provinces or regions for their career development. Analyzing the major survey data generated from a research project conducted by Peking University, this chapter discusses policy implications for talent attraction and retention for the GBA.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigher Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Comparative Perspectives. Higher Education in Asia: Quality, Excellence and Governance
EditorsKa Ho MOK
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789811688706
ISBN (Print)9789811688690
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2022

Publication series

NameHigher Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Comparative Perspectives
ISSN (Print)2365-6352
ISSN (Electronic)2365-6360

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Note: The authors want to thank the Future Education Management Research Center of Peking University and Gui Guo Quan for sharing the data for analysis. This paper is funded by the Hong Kong Scholars Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.


  • International student mobility
  • High-level talents
  • Greater Bay Area (GBA)
  • Brain circulation
  • Teaching
  • Higher education


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