Xiaye Huang

Department: Graduate School of Education
Discipline: Education

Project Summary

Chinese international students’ perceptions of their employability in an English university

Internationalisation strategies for higher education, increasing number of international students, pay high tuition fees to attend UK master study. Chinese student is a major source of international students, nearly a third of Non-EU international students come from China, however, their perceptions about this posh experience is underrepresented. My research thus, contributes to the understanding of how employability is perceived by Chinese international students at their master-level study.

Much research taking a lens from employability to investigate students master level experience, i.e. Jones (2017) Fankule (2017). However, their research does not tease out Chinese perspectives, which has a significant difference from other nationality (Jones, 2015). This research thus filling this gap, intend to investigate Chinese students’ perceptions about their employability.

There is a lack of consistency clarity and accuracy in terms of the definition of employability. Research over emphasize relationship (guanxi) in Chinese students’ employability.

Lack of research has been conducted focusing on Chinese domiciled international students in the UK. This paper attempts to contribute to the concepts of employability by bringing perceptions of Chinese international master students in an English university and contributes to illustrate the diversity of Chinese students’ perceptions about their employability.

My participants come from Cohort 2017/18 Chinese domiciled international master-level postgraduates at the University of Exeter. I started call for participants on March 2018, when their coursework is ended and able to offer an overview of their course and start to consider their career aspiration. Participants from education, business and engineering are recruited. To have an in-depth understanding of Chinese students’ international study experience and their perceptions, participants of this research are invited to share photos they took over their master study year. These photos are used as the retrospective remedy for their previous experiences. A follow-up interview is conducted to explore how they make sense of the experiences they showed in these photos, as well as exploring other experience that might not be shown in the photo.

Both information from photos and interviews contribute to understanding how Chinese international students perceive their employability. Two parts of the findings will be illustrated, firstly, themes from participants’ photos show they concern about their academic link, engagement with local life, cross-cultural experience, thus they show photos with their friends, especially those are not from China, photos they took when traveling and friends they travel with, and photos they participate in Han societies, and photos for lecture/coursework/certificates in their subject area. In the interview, participants emphasize their intention to improve their English such as speaking and vocabulary in their subject area.

This research contributes to the existing debates about what we mean by employability, adding representative perceptions of the largest international students group. Investigated how Chinese students make sense of their experience in the UK. Findings from this research offer evidence for the argument that, existing research overemphasized relationship offered by Chinese students’ parents, but neglected the relationship they created in the UK, which might also offer potential benefit to their employability.

Supervisory Team

Professor Vivienne Marie Baumfield

Dr Sarah Dyer