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Chinese students’ decisions to undertake postgraduate study overseas

Lei Zhu (Leisure Management School, Xi’an Eurasia University, Xi’an, China)
Peter Reeves (Salford Business School, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 8 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to surface themes which may influence Chinese students’ decision making in relation to postgraduate study in international universities.


The study utilises a semi-structured qualitative interview methodology (n=15).


The main findings are discussed according to the following themes: financial and time costs; employment prospects; postgraduate education as a cultural adventure; linguistics; visa issues; admissions; climate; influence of referents; and academic image and reputation.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size is small, yet affords greater depth of data and discussion.

Practical implications

The research offers practitioners in universities who are managing postgraduate recruitment of Chinese students, some greater understanding of the reasons behind prospective Chinese postgraduate students’ choice; from which they can evaluate the effectiveness of their institutions’ recruitment strategies.


Extant research has tended to report reasons why Chinese students study overseas, whereas this study offers deeper insight and exploration of the reasoning of Chinese international students in the postgraduate context. The research is of value given the importance of postgraduate Chinese students to international university recruitment.



Zhu, L. and Reeves, P. (2019), "Chinese students’ decisions to undertake postgraduate study overseas", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 999-1011.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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