In the past few decades, the internationalisation of higher education has become an increasingly popular trend across different parts of the globe. The fierce global competition and the aggravating unemployment rate, coupled with low teaching and research quality revealed by universities in mainland China, have inevitably compelled a growing number of Chinese students, in particular the financially-able ones, to pursue higher education overseas or to enrol in transnational higher education offered in mainland China. Realising the severe problem of ‘brain drain’ and having a strong conviction to transform its higher education system to become more international for enhancing the global competitiveness of its higher education system, the Chinese government has made different attempts to enhance higher education quality by learning and incorporating new ideas and practices from overseas institutions, particularly encouraging the development of transnational higher education to change the higher education landscape. With particular reference to examining the way these students evaluate their future prospects in choosing different alternatives for further studies in higher education, this study sets out against the context briefly outlined above to critically analyse the motivation of students who choose to study abroad or enrol in Sino-foreign cooperation universities. This study also discusses the extent to which the internationalisation of higher education would affect the situations of ‘brain drain’ and graduate employment in China.