About the Conference

The academic and student mobility and migration of Chinese nationals have increased steadily over the last decades. Chinese students, teachers and scholars are now “familiar faces” in international higher education, especially in Australia, Europe and North America. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, more than 100,000 Chinese have studied abroad annually since 2002, and the figure is still expected to rise in the near future.

This conference is interested in the myths and realities that seem to surround the Chinese in international academic mobility and migration.

In international education for instance, Gu and Schweisfurth (2006: 75) argue that “The phrase ‘the Chinese learner’ invites us to see this group as homogeneous, and their needs and responses as determined by their cultural background. However other aspects of the process: the backgrounds and goals of the learners, their specific motivation for learning, the setting for the interaction and the nature of the relationship between teachers and learners, are also influential”.

In a similar vein applied linguist Kumaravadivelu (2008: 54) makes an important point about ‘Asian’ students that seems to apply to Chinese students too: “the language teaching profession has shown a remarkable readiness to forge a causal connection between the classroom behavior of Asian students and their cultural beliefs even though research findings are ambiguous and even contradictory”. Another interesting aspect of e.g. Chinese students’ mobility reported in research, is the impression that they cling to their own group without being ‘assimilated’.

Very few studies or research projects have looked into Chinese teachers and scholars working abroad.

This interdisciplinary conference will review certain myths and realities related to Chinese mobility and migration in international higher education, with an emphasis on institutional, staff and students perspectives. Researchers in the fields of (amongst others) education and pedagogy, sociology, linguistics, (social) psychology, cultural studies but also economics and management are invited to submit a proposal. We would like to stimulate discussions on the following issues (amongst others):

–       1. Demographics of Chinese students, teachers and scholars abroad: who are they (social class, gender, linguistic and cultural background…)? Where do they study/work and what do they do? For students: What happens at the end of their studies abroad? Do they (really) differ from local and other international students?

–       2. How do we talk about Chinese students and scholars abroad? In the media? In research? In institutions of higher education? Have discourses on Chinese students and scholars changed over the last decades? How do they themselves talk about their experiences abroad?

–       3. Chinese nationals and intercultural communication in education and daily life. Critical approaches to adaptation will be preferred (intercultural competences, identity),

–       4. Working with Chinese colleagues, teaching/supervising Chinese students abroad: is it really different from local or other international colleagues/students? If yes, how?

–       5. Language practices: what languages do they learn and use? With whom?

–       6. Short-term/long-term effects of mobility/migration on the scholars, teachers and students, but also China and the locality.