The article focuses on Chinese students' hopes and expectations before leaving to study abroad. The national political environment for their decision to go abroad is shaped by an official narrative of China's transition to a more creative and innovative economy. Students draw on this narrative to interpret their own educational histories and prior experiences, while at the same time making use of imaginaries of 'Western' education to redefine themselves as independent individuals in an increasingly globalised and individualised world. Through a case study of prospective pre-school teachers preparing to study abroad, the article shows how personal, professional and even national goals are closely interwoven. Students expect education abroad to be a personally transformative experience, but rather than defining their goals of individual freedom and creativity in opposition to the authoritarian political system, they think of themselves as having a role in the transformation of Chinese attitudes to education and parent-child relations.
Anders Sybrandt Hansen and Stig Thøgersen
Recent years have seen a tremendous increase in transnational education mobility. The two trends of international integration and marketisation of higher education have made for a situation in which increasing numbers of aspiring young people worldwide seize the opportunity to study abroad as part of their higher education. No other nation sends more students abroad than China. In 2014, 459,800 students left the country to study abroad (Ministry of Education 2015); and 22 per cent of all international students enrolled in tertiary education in OECD countries in 2012 came from China (OECD 2014: 350). To explore the many dimensions of this huge wave of educational migration we hosted a conference at Aarhus University with the title Chinese Students Abroad: Reflections, Strategies and Impacts of a Global Generation in March 2014. The initial versions of the first three articles in this issue by Heidi Ross and Yajing Chen, Kirsten Jæger and Malene Gram, and Qing Gu were presented at this conference.2 The fourth article, by Naomi Yamada, examines the education of ethnic minorities inside China and thereby throws light on another, but related, effect of the marketisation of Chinese education.