Working Paper 21
International and transnational learning in higher education: a study of students’ career development in China
Published June 2017

Professor Ka Ho Mok, Dr Xiao Han, Dr Jin Jiang (all Lingnan University) and Dr Xiaojun Zhang (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University) explore the benefits of studying abroad for the careers of students in China.

The paper highlights the fact that there has been a huge rise in the number of outwardly mobile students from Asia, with the region accounting for over half of all overseas students worldwide in recent years.

The researchers used student surveys and interviews to determine whether international study is beneficial to career development. The majority of their respondents felt that their international learning experiences had positively contributed to their careers, citing career services and alumni networks as offering benefits. Soft skills – such as foreign language proficiency – were also reported as advantageous when it came to applying for jobs.

Yet most graduates who study abroad come from wealthier families and gain their first job through social connections. The researchers point out that this raises a question over the extent to which overseas study programmes perpetuate social inequality. They conclude that although transnational higher education and overseas study offer new opportunities, such opportunities are not equally distributed and further research is needed to compare outcomes between different groups.