Theoretical and Empirical Inquiry into the Mobility of Asian students and highly skilled workers and Changes in the Funding Structure in Higher Education

*This study is supported by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, through Kaken (17H02678)

Principal Investigator:

Yukari Matsuzuka (Hitotsubshi University)



Yuriko Sato (Tokyo Institute of Technology)



This research project examines changes in global mobility of Asian students and highly skilled workers. Our project features an intensive investigation into the recent students’ mobility to, and from, China. The study attempts to explore changes in funding structures of postsecondary education when transnational mobility is increasing under globalization.  Specifically the project consists of the following four investigations:

  • To analyze the increase in the transnational movement of students and highly-skilled workers in Asia, and the conditions under which they move,
  • To clarify how costs are shared regionally and between the public and private sectors in higher education,
  • Theoretical and empirical inquiry into the relation between the cost sharing and conditions resulting in migration,
  • To present policy and system for higher education funding that would offer educational opportunities in response to mobility.


Research Method

We are in the second year of our research project. In the fiscal year 2017, we first studied theories and hypotheses that explain recent mobility in the higher education community. We examined theories that would explain the “causes” of mobility as well as the “results” of mobility in different fields of academic discipline, which were enabled by a collaborative work by researchers from different academic areas yet adhering to a common interest in higher education mobility

The following figure shows the summary of the theories and concepts that we examined.

Conceptual map

In the first year, we also developed a mobility database mainly using macro data. The macro data was constructed for this specific project to analyze higher education mobility by integrating various datasets provided by UNESCO, OECD, and the World Bank, which we have named “Database for Higher Education Mobility Study (DHEMS).” By using the database, we conducted statistical analyses to investigate the recent trend of mobility of post-secondary students and the reasons for and impact of such mobility with special focus on Asian and Pacific students flows. The results were presented in the annual conference of Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), which was held in Mexico in March 2018.

From the second year on, we have been and will be developing micro-level data to investigate the cost structure of the highly skilled who move. The aims of the rest of the project are as follows:

  • To construct and analyze micro-level data on researchers’ backgrounds that clarifies the cost structure of the highly skilled who move,
  • To clarify the relationship between mobility and costs through a) a pooled analysis of macro- and micro-level data, and b) a survey of government and universities, and
  • To combine and create a database from the above three results to develop a four-stage benchmark for finances based on a comprehensive analysis.

The outline along with the research timeline is what follows:Research design

This research combines theory and quantitative and qualitative research to illuminate the issue and conduct collaborative research with overseas researchers who have previously engaged in this research by allotting each of them a country to be analyzed. The results will be discussed in and with the academic group and network that specialize research in mobility and Asian education such as NRCEM, and will be publicized at symposiums at international conferences, and through submissions to journals and books.

Authors’ Bio

Yukari Matsuzuka 

Contact information:

#422 Isono Building, Hitotsubashi University

Naka 2-1, Kunitachi City, Tokyo 186-8601 Japan

Yukari Matsuzuka is Professor in Economics of Education at Hitotsubashi University. She received her Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Columbia University, New York. Her work experiences include Research Associate at Institute of Economics of Education at Columbia University, Professor at the Research and Development Center for Higher Education in Hitotsubashi University, and Visiting Professor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Her recent research focuses on internationalization and global student mobility in higher education, changing in postsecondary funding structure, and tertiary education reform in Asia, which activities are conducted at the following institute established primarily for the study of mobility:

Yuriko Sato

I am studying on the cause and effect of Asian student mobility, such as policy, economic and cultural impact.

Currently, I am the representative of research project on “Empirical Study on Brain Circulation of International Students with Science and Engineering Majors” supported by Grant-in-Aid for Research of Japanese government (2015-2019)

Paper related to Chinese student mobility

Dou, Shuohua & Yuriko Sato (2017) Study on the Factors Which Influence the Stay/Return of Chinese Graduates of Japanese Universities and Their Working and Living Environment: Comparison by Their Majors and Type of Workplaces, Migration Policy Review, 9: 89-105

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