Health Hazard and Symbolic Violence : The Impact of Double Disturbance on International Learning Experiences

Ka Ho MOK*, Wing Chit Esther MOK

*Corresponding author for this work

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

3 Citations (Scopus)


Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, studying abroad was popular among Asian students. The most preferred destinations for overseas studies among Chinese and Asian students were universities located in North America, Europe and the United Kingdom, and Australia. With the impact of COVID-19 related crisis, international reviews indicate the growing influence of the new geo-politic realities has already affected international student mobility. Recent research suggests COVID-19-related discrimination is common in western societies, and the pandemic seems to have exacerbated pre-existing resentment against racial/ethnic minorities/marginalized communities. Reports of racist and xenophobic incidents directed toward Chinese and Asian students, together with personal experiences being culturally discriminated when studying overseas, would have affected students’ motivation for studying abroad. This chapter explores the context of the COVID-19 crisis to critically examine how Chinese and Asian students evaluate the pandemic in relation to their international learning experiences. Our findings suggest many Chinese and Asian students have experienced the “double disturbance” generated from health hazard (COVID-19 infection risk) and symbolic violence (cultural discrimination and racism against Asian students because of different public health prevention behaviours) during the crisis period. The worsening diplomatic relations between China and her Western counterparts resulting from the new geo-political realities have shaped the studying abroad plan of Chinese and Asian students. Based on a critical review of the #STOPASIANHATE movement and the analysis of survey findings regarding Chinese student motivation for international learning, this chapter offers critical reflections about COVID-19’s impact on the future internationalization of higher education in East Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrafting the Future of International Higher Education in Asia via Systems Change and Innovation : Reimagining New Modes of Cooperation in the Post Pandemic
EditorsAngela Yung Chi HOU, Joshua SMITH, Ka Ho MOK, Chao-Yu GUO
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789819918744
ISBN (Print)9789819918737, 9789819918768
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameHigher Education in Asia
VolumePart F3
ISSN (Print)2365-6352
ISSN (Electronic)2365-6360

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the academic reviews for providing useful comments and related references to further enhance the paper. Special thanks also go to Professor Angela Hou and Riley Hong for their support during the writing process of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.


  • COVID-19 crisis
  • International student mobility
  • Racism and cultural discrimination
  • STOPASIANHATE movement
  • Geo-political realities
  • Offensive realism


Dive into the research topics of 'Health Hazard and Symbolic Violence : The Impact of Double Disturbance on International Learning Experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this