Determinants of Chinese students’ increasing pursuit of UK’s taught master degree under the third wave of international education mobility

Keyu ZHAI, Kang CAO*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

2 Citations (Scopus)


Although there is an abundance of research on international students’ study and life experiences in the receiving countries and their post-study labour market outcomes in the sending countries, the motivations to study in a specific country have rarely been studied. Based on the theoretically grounded analysis, this article aims to explore the determinants driving Chinese students to increasingly choose UK’s postgraduate taught programmes, under the context of the third wave of international student mobility. Drawing on 41 interviews and thematic analysis, this study finds a variety of determinants: China’s intense domestic competition for the master programme entry, social networks, China’s traditional culture, short duration of master programme, global competence and parental influence. Also, the results suggest that China’s domestic master education is experiencing great changes. The findings provide implications for UK higher education institutions and Chinese students in terms of studying abroad. This study contributes to a broadened empirical and conceptual understanding of capital conversion and push-pull model under Chinese student context, offering empirical evidence for explaining the inner decision process of studying in the UK regarding students coming from China’s contemporary middle class.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Cultural Heritage and Innovation Project of China University of Mining and Technology: Interaction between Overseas Dissemination of Chinese Culture and Localization of Foreign Culture [2018WHCCO6]; A study on the key problems of forming multi-level spatial pattern in Jiangsu [2021SJA1013]; The Jiangsu Provincial Innovation and Entrepreneurship Doctor Program [JSSCBS20211193]; 2022 Social Science Foundation of China University of mining and technology [2022-11338]; Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities; Center for Balance Architecture, Zhejiang University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Institute of Education, Singapore.


  • China’s higher education
  • Chinese international students
  • cosmopolitan competency
  • decision model
  • UK’s master education


Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of Chinese students’ increasing pursuit of UK’s taught master degree under the third wave of international education mobility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this