22 SES 09 B, Paper Session
Student employability appears as an important policy issue for the contemporary understanding of the role of higher education in developing human capital and labour market productivity worldwide (Tomlinson, 2012, Nilsson, 2017).
How policy-makers understand the link between education and employability may influentially affect many other stakeholders’ practices such as universities, employers, then consequently the individual students (Lundgren-Resenterra and Kahn, 2020).
Internationalisation agenda is also a noticeable factor in developing and emerging countries. It is also evident in the increased interests in researching the reverse student mobility, for instance, in the Chinese higher education, which is the focus in the current research setting.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, China had become an important player as a destination country for international students: taking the 3rd place after the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) in the global list of host nations. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE, 2019), it had 492,185 inbound students in 2018. In comparison to those traditional destination countries (e.g. the US, the UK, and Australia) the Chinese government’s interest in the intake of international students seem to be less about the revenue-generating issue than the development of the country’s soft power and international competitiveness (Qi, 2021, Wen et al., 2018). As has been placed in a larger global strategy -- the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R), internationalisation of Chinese higher education has been initiating investments such as the bilateral agreements with partner countries and the Double First Class University Plan (Yan et al., 2019).
In the review of the literature, relevant literature exploring international students’ employability is a recent thing; its focus is largely on ISM streaming from developing to developed or within developed countries (Huang and Turner, 2018, Crossman and Clarke, 2010). Thus, research understanding the link between ISM in the Chinese higher education, as the reverse and emergent rise, and their employability is worth to be conducted.
In addition, existing research on graduate employability tends to understand the link by narrowly looking at its potential benefits on the graduates’ education-work transition. Findings from these studies are indeed insightful in understandings how ISM could benefit individual students’ employment experience, particularly for those who have not experienced any formal work experience and need to face their first job hunting experience after graduation. Graduate employment is also of paramount important for different stakeholders related to higher education (i.e. individual students, universities, nation states) (O’Leary, 2017).
However, the focus on the obtaining employment may limit our understanding of individual students’ subjective values of their study abroad to future prospects, particularly of a more diverse international student body. For international students who pursue a degree study at Master’s level, they may have very different study and work trajectories from those of students who do their first-degree studies; and the decision of study abroad might be part of their lifelong learning process that interacts with the career trajectory.
Given this, this study attempts to address two research questions to explore the link between international student mobility (ISM) and employability. The first research question explores the reasons why individuals choose to do a master’s study in China, particularly in aspects of their perceived value of overall educational and international mobility experiences to their future career prospects. The second question then looks at how international students develop employability by understanding their reported study and living experiences in China.
The findings were analysed and discussed from the theoretical perspective of Capability Approach (CA) to capture and frame students’ perceived value of ISM experiences to employability beyond the human capital or positional conflict conceptualisation
The research is a small-scale, qualitative interview study of international students at a single research-intensive, top Chinese university. Purposeful sampling and snowball sampling were used for the sample selection. 23 Master’s students were recruited from 8 disciplinary areas (Education, Medicine, Agriculture, Economics, Public Affairs, Politics and Chinese studies, Chemical Engineering, Bridge and Tunnel Engineering) and 20 different countries across the six continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia). Most are two-year full-time Master’s programs. But some programs may be of shorter duration; for example, the Politics and Chinese Studies program only lasts one year. 23 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted at the end of second semester with each participant from March to May 2019. 9 follow-up interviews were conducted with participants who enrolled in a longer study program for gathering data and gaining participants’ subsequent developments and experiences.
The findings were analysed and discussed from the theoretical perspective of Capability Approach (CA) to capture and frame students’ perceived value of ISM experiences to employability beyond the human capital or positional conflict conceptualisation. The findings indicate that students link ISM experiences in China with their employability development. The role of ISM has been perceived as enhancing students’ capabilities not only limited to the obtaining employment at the higher education and labour market transition, but for considering the long-term career trajectories (including self-employment) that one has reason to value. Students manage to develop these capabilities through a combination of resources and the internal and external conversion factors. The study further proposes implications for government higher education and university policies to support agents (as individuals or groups) with an inclusive and transformative learning environment.
BECKER, G. S. 2009. Human capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education. University of Chicago press. BROWN, P. 2000. The globalisation of positional competition? Sociology, 34, 633-653. BROWN, P., HESKETH, A. & WILIAMS, S. 2003. Employability in a Knowledge-driven Economy. Journal of Education and Work, 16, 107-126. QI, J. 2021. China’s international higher education policies 2010–2019: multiple logics and HEI responses. Higher Education. SEN, A. 2003. Functionings and Capability. Inequality Reexamined. Oxford: Oxford University Press. TOMLINSON, M. 2012. Graduate Employability: A Review of Conceptual and Empirical Themes. Higher Education Policy, 25, 407-431. TOMLINSON, M. 2013. Conceptualizing the relationships between education and work. Education, Work and Identity – Themes and Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury. WALKER, M. & BONI, A. 2013. Higher education and human development: Towards the public and social good. In: BONI, A. & WALKER, M. (eds.) Human Development and Capabilities : Re-Imagining the University of the Twenty-first Century. London: Routledge. WALKER, M. & FONGWA, S. 2017. Universities, employability and human development. In: WALKERMELANIE & FONGWASAMUEL (eds.). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.