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Student migration as the start of intellectual migration: the who, why, where of Chinese international students in North America

Authors: Lucia Lo*, York University
Topics: Migration
Keywords: student migration, intellectual migration, China, North America
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The “global race for talent”, amplified by higher-education migration, and pursued by both global north and global south countries, has drawn immense academic and policy attention. The intellectual migration framework (IM) sees student migration as the onset of a dynamic process underlying global knowledge and human capital exchange. Specifying migration as a means to achieve intellectual development through heightened social and spatial mobilities and via trans-local/transnational connections, IM stipulates that mobility can be facilitated or constrained by individual, institutional and structural factors. Focusing on the Who, Why and Where components of intellectual migration, and based on two online surveys of Chinese international students respectively at a Canadian and a US university, the paper first examines the characteristics of Chinese international students in North America, factors influencing their decisions to study there, and their post-graduation migration plans. The rise of China in the global economy has afforded Chinese international students increasing flexibility and agility in movement. Student mobility, however, is still constrained by the restrictions and fixities produced by time, space, boundaries, contextual environments in origin and destination countries and beyond, as well as personal identities and experiences. The paper will then compare Chinese students pursuing higher education in Canada and those studying in the US to ascertain the role of Canada as a nexus in this type of human capital flow.

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