Chinese Independent College Graduates’ Motivations for Entering Postgraduate Study: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Three Colleges in Zhuhai

Shunyi XIAO (Presenter), Jiehui ZHANG (Presenter), Weiyan XIONG* (Presenter)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Whether undergraduates choose to continue their studies or directly join in the job market after graduation is a widely discussed issue. Independent colleges in China refer to higher education institutions that carry out undergraduate education in cooperation with social organizations or individuals other than state institutions and use non-state financial funds to operate. Taking independent colleges in Zhuhai as cases, this article examines their graduates’ motivations for continuing their studies in postgraduate programmes, and ultimately aims to provide suggestions to improve students’ ability, employment, and quality management of independent colleges in Zhuhai. Inspired by the existing literature on college students’ motivations of entering postgraduate studies, this study adopts a mixed-methods approach and conducts survey and semi-structured in-depth interviews with graduates of three independent colleges in Zhuhai to analyse their motivations and the problems and factors influencing independent college graduates’ decisions. This study intends to collect about 500 questionnaires and interview about 20 graduates. In addition, a pilot study with six graduates has been conducted and offered insights to the quality education offering in independent colleges in Zhuhai. In addition to the institutional advancement, this study aims to guide independent college students to further consider their studies after graduation with comprehensive study or career plans, which will help improve the education quality of the independent colleges in Zhuhai.


ConferenceChina and Higher Education 2021 Conference
Abbreviated titleChinaHE21
OtherInternationalization of higher education in and outside of China continues to face unprecedented challenges, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following campus closures in many countries, immediate concerns in the international higher education sector focused on issues such as financial instability (IAU, 2020) and (im)mobility of international students (Mok et al., 2021). China was placed at the forefront of such discussions due to the country’s status as both a leading source country for international students (OECD, 2021) and significant host of international students from other countries (Wen & Hu, 2019). Yet, questions about the role of China and international higher education were raised well before the current global health crisis. For example, Chinese students have increasingly questioned the value of an international higher education degree (Huang & Turner, 2018). Scholars have similarly argued that the value and benefits of international higher education unevenly impact different social groups (Rizvi, 2019). Mobility in particular has been given a spotlight in this debate, considering the tendency for elite, privileged groups to have the greatest opportunities to be internationally mobile (Brooks & Waters, 2011). Many in the field of international higher education believe a broad-based crisis for global higher education is emerging; one major consequence is intensifying inequality in the post-pandemic period. Other scholars have questioned how the sector might respond moving forward into a ‘post-mobility world’ (White & Lee, 2020). Last year, our #ChinaHE focused on ‘uncertain futures’ and the ways that uncertainty underpinned much of the experiences in higher education in the immediate post-pandemic period. In this year’s #ChinaHE21 conference, we seek to shift attention towards how the sector has and will continue to respond to the wide range of challenges that have been previously outlined. Against this broader socio-political context, the conference will critically reflect upon the future trends and developments of China and international higher education. More specifically, this conference will focus on issues related to how the current global health crisis affects the motivations and patterns of international student and academic mobility, to and from China, and the future of China’s role in international higher education.
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