International Student Mobility, Government Policies, and Neoliberal Globalization: Exploring Chinese Graduate Students' Perspectives on Pursuing Higher Education in Canada

International Student Mobility, Government Policies, and Neoliberal Globalization: Exploring Chinese Graduate Students' Perspectives on Pursuing Higher Education in Canada

Jie Zheng (East China Normal University, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3451-8.ch004


Given the increasing magnitude of international student flows from “developing countries” to the “developed” or major member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this chapter explores Chinese graduate student flows to Canada. Chinese graduate student perspectives are also drawn upon to study the phenomenon of Chinese student migrations to Canada in pursuit of higher education. Given the focus on exploration, meanings and understandings, an interpretivist approach and qualitative case study strategy were utilized to examine government policies and positions that stimulate international student mobility (ISM) from China to Canada and to understand the experiences of Chinese graduate students who study at the University of Alberta. Unlike the ISM mainly sponsored by the Chinese government before, contemporary outbound student mobility is impacted by neoliberalism and a freer mobility shapes Chinese students' pursuit of overseas studies. Chinese traditional culture and values also influence Chinese student mobility across borders for pursuing higher education. In the meantime, patriotism makes many Chinese students concern about serving their home country. The chapter also presents reflections on government policies pertaining to ISM and highlights the emergent themes from the data obtained from the qualitative case study of Chinese graduate student flows to Canada.
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Student Mobility In Neoliberal Globalization

Higher education in the last two decades has been affected by “the intensification of a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political developments” (Schugurensky, 2012, p. 293), in particular, by “the globalization of the economy, the retrenchment of the welfare state, and the commodification of knowledge” (Schugurensky, p. 293). Neoliberal globalization did not bring about the real free trade or free market among nations as its advocates promised, but has resulted in greater divergence between the “developed countries” and the “developing countries.” In conjunction with ISM, the “developed countries,” which dominate in scientific, engineering, and medical fields (Robertson & Scholte, 2007) by way of their advanced technology and modernization attract talented people from all over of the world and are always the greatest beneficiaries when it comes to global human capital flows, while “developing countries” suffer from “brain drain.” As Robertson and Scholte (2007) elaborate, brain drain “combines elements of the global movement of labor and capital (via the flow of highly skilled and talented workers) with investment in human capital” (p. 104).

The other prevailing influence from neoliberal globalization on higher education and ISM is “a vision of students as human capital” (Apple, 2000, p. 60). This vision of human capital undoubtedly stimulates international student migration from developing countries to developed countries for a better education so that the students can strengthen their skills for participation in the competitive labor market. In addition, the agenda of neoliberal globalization, promoted by multilateral or bilateral agencies, has impacted higher education and ISM. As Torres and Rhoads (2006) argue, the World Bank and the OECD have pushed for more privatization and decentralization of education. The agenda

includes a push toward privatization and decentralization of public forms of education, a movement toward educational standards, a strong emphasis on testing, and a focus on accountability. Specific to higher education, neoliberal versions of globalization suggest four primary reforms for universities related to efficiency and accountability, accreditation and universalization, international competitiveness, and privatization. (p. 10)

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