The influence of the Chinese hukou system in motivating and shaping the geography of Chinese international student mobility

Erli Kang*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The hukou system (household registration system) is a long-established and significant institutional barrier to population movement within China and, accordingly, has been the subject of a great deal of research. What has received scant attention, however, is the influence that this system has on the considerable phenomenon of Chinese international student mobility (ISM). This paper is based on an analysis of 50 semistructured interviews with Shanghai-based returnee students. Utilising the notions of institutional barriers to migration and middle-category migration, it illustrates the important role that the hukou system plays in motivating nonelite Chinese students to study abroad and how this institutional barrier shapes their strategic decision making across various temporal phases of the ISM process. These findings are of significance as they highlight the largely unacknowledged role of hukou in the Chinese ISM system. Conceptually, they emphasise the importance of sufficiently accounting for institutional barriers to internal and international mobility in the experiences of international students in migration studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2734
Number of pages12
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Volume30
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • China
  • Higher education
  • Institutional barriers
  • Internal migration
  • International student mobility

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