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Emerging destination mobility: Exploring African and Asian international students’ push-pull factors and motivations to study in China

Charles Gbollie (School of Psychology, Huazhong Normal University, Wuhan, China)
Shaoying Gong (School of Psychology, Huazhong Normal University, Wuhan, China)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 15 October 2019

Issue publication date: 9 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to explore the push-pull factors and motivations of African and Asian international students in Chinese universities.


Concurrent mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) design was used. The quantitative component included 537 Africans and Asians from five notable universities, while the qualitative aspect consisted of 30 participants in Wuhan and few other cities in China.


Findings revealed availability of scholarship opportunities, China’s flexibility (visa and program entry) and perception of better education quality as important push-pull factors. It also discovered several new pull factors, including citizens’ attitude and good report, development potential and hospitality and receptiveness, while career development and entertainment were found to be the most and least significant motivational factors, respectively. The study also found a significant relationship between push-pull factors and study abroad motivation (SAM) as well as cross-cultural differences between African and Asian students.

Research limitations/implications

Most of the participants were drawn from Wuhan city. Hence, the findings cannot be outrightly generalized to other contexts.

Practical implications

This research provides valuable knowledge for policy makers, higher education institutions, international students and other stakeholders in China to inform better student experience.


There was no study found that combines push-pull factors and SAM or comparatively investigates African and international students in China. Knowledge about sojourners push-pull factors and motivations, their relationship and cross-cultural differences is essential for evidence-based interventions.



Conflict of interest: the authors have no possible conflict of interest.

The authors received no monetary support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this paper.


Gbollie, C. and Gong, S. (2020), "Emerging destination mobility: Exploring African and Asian international students’ push-pull factors and motivations to study in China", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 18-34.



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