Call for Chapters
International students in China: Education, student life and intercultural encounters

Eds. Fred Dervin (University of Helsinki, Finland), Xiangyun Du (Aalborg University, Denmark) & Anu Härkönen (TUAS & University of Helsinki, Finland)

Deadline for abstracts: 15 October 2015
Volume to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in the Palgrave Studies on Chinese Education in a Global Perspective (Series Editors: Dervin/Du)

“Being an international student in China is an unforgettable and immensely rewarding experience. Not only will you be able to witness firsthand China’s historic transformation from an underdeveloped country into a major global power, but you’ll meet people from all over the world too. Many international students take advantage of the two long holidays in an academic year (each lasting one to two months) to travel around China and Asia”. (CUCAS, China’s University and College Admission System)
In 2014 China welcomed around 380,000 international students in its 2,788 higher education institutions. Most popular amongst Korean, American, Thai, Japanese, Russian and Indonesian students, they come to study humanities, business & management, and health professions (Source: China Scholarship Council, CSC). In comparison, the same year 459,800 Chinese students went to study abroad (Source: Chinese Ministry of Education). The total number of number of students in higher education institutions was approximately 34.6 million. Compared to other parts of the world, China may not appear (yet?) as a prime place for international students to study but the figures are increasing year after year. In the past decades, scholars have given tremendous attention to Chinese students studying aboard, trying to analyse how Chinese students experience cultural encounters and find their way through their studies in the so-called ‘western’ world. Nevertheless, research on international students’ experiences in China remains sparse. With the rapid growth of the number of international students studying in China, more knowledge and understanding of their experiences in China are needed as well as its proper ‘inception’ into the field of global academic mobility.

This volume is interested in investigating the many and varied educational, social and intercultural experiences of international students in Mainland China. As always, when dealing with these populations, there is a need to problematize the very idea of ‘international students’. In this book the editors wish to publish chapters that deal with degree students, exchange students, free movers, trainees and students on a short-term study abroad such as summer schools. Potential authors may wish to concentrate on one of these populations or compare them.

The volume follows a certain number of principles when examining the experiences of international students.

1. As China and the Chinese are often constructed as archetypes of ‘otherness’ and turned into stereotypes (even in research), the editors wish potential authors to pursue a critical approach to questions of interculturality and to avoid the pitfalls of essentialism and culturalism which tend to ‘museify’ China and the Chinese. Reflexivity and criticality towards these aspects are deemed essential.

2. Whenever possible potential authors are urged to use theories, concepts, and methodologies from ‘peripheries’ and to question easily accepted and uncritical models or ideas in relation to questions of e.g. the integration of students, cultural differences, obsession with the ‘locals’, etc.

The editors wish to attract chapters on the following research topics:

– students’ motivations, dreams and expectations for studying in China

– encounters with other students and people (friendship, love relations, etc.)

– identity issues

– daily life (accommodation, food, shopping, social contacts, etc.)

– learning (intercultural, social, educational, professional, etc.)

– preparation prior to/while studying in China

– success, failure and disappointment

– impact of the experience on future

– alternative experiences

– traveling in China during their stay abroad

– impact on their returns to their home countries/institutions

– career perspectives

– other relevant issues.


Abstract of proposed chapter (300 words): 15 October 2015

Full chapters to be submitted: 1 March 2016

Authors are invited to submit a 300-word proposal (including a few lines about the author(s)) in English to the editors (,, – please no pdf!

The proposals should clearly formulate the research question(s), explain the theoretical positioning and concerns of the proposed chapter, and include a short description of data (where applicable). A basic bibliography may also be added.