Critical Reflections on Mainland China and Taiwan Overseas Returnees’ Job Searches and Career Development Experiences in the Rising Trend of Anti-globalisation

Weiyan XIONG*, Ka Ho MOK

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the last few decades, the growth of gross enrolment ratios in higher education in the Asia and Pacific region reveals an increasing level of economic, social and political confidence within the region. The consistent and enhanced performances of higher education systems in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia and Taiwan are revealed clearly by different global university league tables, such as QS, Times Higher Education and Shanghai Jiao Tong University Ranking. Many governments in Asia believe investing in higher education would enhance their national competitiveness in the global marketplace. Therefore, different public policy measures have been adopted to engage not only the public sector but also the private sector to create more higher education opportunities, which has resulted in the massification of higher education. With a strong belief that higher education investments would bring good returns to both individuals and the nation, governments and families, individuals in Mainland China and Taiwan have followed the similar trends outlined above. An increasing number of individuals have sought education overseas with the confidence that it would bring them positive returns and enhance their job search and career developments after they have obtained degrees from foreign universities. This article sets out against this sociopolitical context to conduct a critical examination of how students from Mainland China and Taiwan who have graduated from UK universities evaluate the effects of overseas studies on their job search and career development. More specifically, this article reflects critically upon the value of international learning against the growing wave of anti-globalism and heated debates that question the value of the internationalisation of higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-436
Number of pages24
JournalHigher Education Policy
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

The authors want to thank the ESRC for supporting this research project. With such funding support, the authors could conduct field interviews with students and graduates from Mainland China and Taiwan to develop a better understanding of how their overseas learning experiences would have affected their job placement and career development. The authors also thank Dr. Xiao Han’s assistance in the fieldwork of the project.

The authors thank the ESRC in the UK for supporting the research project being reported in this paper (Grant No. ES/M010082/1). The project is part of the research programme of the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) based in the University of Oxford under the directorship of Professor Simon Marginson. Professor Ka Ho Mok, one of the co-authors of this paper, is the Co-Investigator of CGHE, leading the Research Programme 1.5, funded by the ESRC.


  • Anti-globalism
  • China and Taiwan
  • Education relevance
  • Informal employment
  • Internationalisation of higher education
  • Return on investment


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