International academics in mainland China: what do we know and what do we need to know?

Xin Xu, Andrea Braun Střelcová, Giulio Marini, Futao Huang, Yuzhuo Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article examines the trend of academic migration to mainland China. Notably, the most recent literature identified a new cohort of international academics in China, who are non-Chinese academics with long-term and full-time positions. Despite growing research interests, there is a lack of critical and synthesised reviews about the extant studies regarding this group of international academics, in terms of theoretical frameworks, methodologies and empirical findings. This article addresses this research gap by drawing on a critical review of existing scholarship, in combination with three empirical research projects conducted by the authors of this article. The article unpacks conceptual and methodological ambiguities in the existing research and reveals major findings with regards to the profiles, motivations, challenges and work roles related to international academics in China. It also proposes a new typology to define international academics in mainland China and future research agendas in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • academic migration
  • Academic mobility
  • Chinese higher education and research
  • foreign researchers
  • Global East

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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