CALL FOR PAPERS: Socially sustainable educational mobility: rethinking the ethics and politics of student mobilities in higher education

Proposed Panel for Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) 2019
San Francisco, 14-18 April, 2019

For more information, please contact the panel organizer Dr Peidong Yang, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Please email an extended abstract (400-500 words) and a biographic note (up to 100 words) to the above email address by 15 September, 2018. Early submission is encouraged.

CIES2019_CFP_Socially Sustainable Educational Mobility-1CIES2019_CFP_Socially Sustainable Educational Mobility-2CIES2019_CFP_Socially Sustainable Educational Mobility-3

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

How to Manage Your Time During the PhD: Balancing the Thesis, Writing for Publications and Gaining Teaching Experience

This post was originally published at the FERSA blog.

During my PhD career at Cambridge (September 2012 to July 2016), I spent around 95 per cent of my time in a magical sphere called the University of Cambridge Writing Group. In this space, I wrote nearly my entire thesis, published three peer-reviewed journal articles, won a Best Paper Award and landed a job as Lecturer in Education immediately after graduation. I now have friends who write to me from time to time to get my advice on time management, on job hunting and on work-life balance. While I keep emphasising to them that publication is the most important, I feel obliged to tell the ‘truth’ behind all these ‘hard facts’ or what some people would call ‘achievements’.

Cora Lingling Xu

The truth is, when my current Head of School asked me how I found my experience at Cambridge, I told him that these have been the best four years of my life so far. This is the truth. Yet this is not all the truth. There were difficult periods throughout my PhD, moments of doubt, agony, and despair—this is no news to anybody pursuing or holding a PhD. What I want to share in this post, therefore, is how I have survived all the difficult moments. I want to offer three reflective moments.

Moment 1

Venue: Tea Room, Sociology Department, Free School Lane

Date: 31st December 2012

Attendees: Moira, Christine, Dee and Emma

Event: This was probably the second Writing Group session that I had attended. Moira, Christine, Dee and Emma were all senior PhD students finishing their PhD theses. These were the people that I later looked up to and often sought advice from. During one break, Moira made a comment about minding her ‘authorial voice’. This little phrase stuck with me ever since. I started to realise that the PhD experience (at least for social sciences) was really about developing an academic identity that is primarily represented by one’s written work.

Moral: This revelation was pivotal in that I made a conscious decision to frequent the Writing Group, because this was so much more than a writing space. It was a place for me to get inspiration, seek advice and develop friendship; it was my support network and my ‘security net’. I am not asking everybody who reads this post to join the Writing Group (although it is a worthwhile idea), but rather I am suggesting that buddies at the Writing Group were the ones who helped me survive all the self-doubts, agony and despair. It is essential for PhD students to feel secure and supported among like-minded friends. So, your first task is to seek such a space and grow with it.

Moment 2

Venue: Barbara White Room, Newnham College

Date: April 2014

Attendees: Writing Group buddies

Event: I received a notification from the European Educational Research Association (EERA) that my article had won the Best Paper Award and that it would be published in the European Educational Research Journal (EERJ).

Moral: Start publishing as early as you can. I learned about the EERA Best Paper Award competition when I attended the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in 2013. The prospect of publishing a paper at the EERJ was appealing. I carefully studied previous winning essays and prepared my article while I was conducting fieldwork. At that time, I only had some preliminary analysis of the first round of interviews. However, I wrote up my analysis and got helpful feedback from my supervisor Professor Diane Reay and my friends, including Dr Erin Spring, who was then a PhD student. This was my first article, published in early 2015.

When I nearly finished my first phase of fieldwork in March 2014, I wrote another article for a conference in Denmark. This article was based on more comprehensive analysis of the bulk of my empirical data. Although the analysis was relatively crude and broad-stroked, I gained some valuable feedback at the conference and my article was included in a special issue, published in October 2015.

As I was writing my findings chapters, I began to write my third article, which was submitted to the British Journal of Sociology of Education in early 2015. I received reviewers’ ‘ruthless’ feedback in July 2015, which, when I look back now, was hugely beneficial to strengthening the rigour of my analysis. I submitted my revised version in September 2015 and the article was accepted in February 2016.

To summarise, it is never too early to write for publications during your PhD. I began writing for publication as soon as I had some data at hand to analyse. I was constantly thinking about the next article and how I could make sure that I had a worthwhile message to communicate to readers of my targeted journals. My motto, which I have inherited from my wise Writing Group buddies, is that you write (a lot) to become a good writer and similarly, you write (a lot of articles) to become a good published author.

What I found most beneficial was that I had supportive but critical colleagues to comment on my drafts. At Cambridge I co-organised a reading group with Dr Selena Yuan in which we regularly critiqued on each other’s works and helped each other publish more effectively. Cambridge is a gold mine of talented and critical friends, so start building a network to support each other’s publication journeys.

Moment 3

Date: Some time in 2015

Venue: Origin 8 Café, FOE

Attendees: Elizabeth and Pu Shi

Event: I came out of GS4 and ran into Elizabeth and Pu Shi, who were having a meeting at the café. Upon learning that I was acting as a Teaching Assistant to facilitate a Master’s research methods class, Elizabeth commented that I was career-oriented.

Moral: Yes, I was quite strategic about gaining teaching experience during the PhD. Since 2013 I had been supervising Tripos Sociology papers and Research and Investigating projects. However, I ensured that such teaching did not take up too much of my time. Now that I think about it, I spent around ten to fifteen per cent of my time doing supervisions and acting as a teaching assistant. I also gave some guest lectures at different universities, such as the University of Northampton and the Open University of Hong Kong. These experiences proved instrumental for informing my pedagogical understanding and helpful in allowing me to construct a coherent narrative about my repertoire of teaching experience.

To return to what I set out to answer in this post: How did I manage my time during PhD in order to balance finishing the thesis, writing publications and gaining teaching experience? Firstly, I established an important network of support from which I gained inspirations, friendship, and a sense of security. Secondly, I began writing for publication as soon as the early stages of my data collection, and I kept writing for publications throughout the PhD journey. Lastly, I strategically sought opportunities to gain teaching experience, while ensuring that teaching did not take up too much of my time.

Author Bio

Dr Cora Lingling Xu (PhD, Cambridge, FHEA) is Assistant Professor at Durham University, UK. She is an editorial board member of British Journal of Sociology of Education, Cambridge Journal of Education and International Studies in Sociology of Education. In 2017, Cora founded the Network for Research into Chinese Education Mobilities. Cora has published in international peer-reviewed journals, including British Journal of Sociology of Education, The Sociological Review, International Studies in Sociology of Education, Review of Education, European Educational Research Journal and Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. Her research interests include Bourdieu’s theory of practice, sociology of time, rural-urban inequalities, ethnicity, education mobilities and inequalities and China studies. She can be reached at, and via Twitter @CoraLinglingXu. Download her publications here.

Dealing with Journal Rejections as an Early-Career Researcher

This post was originally published at the FERSA blog.

By: Dr Cora Lingling Xu, PhD Cambridge, Keele University

Note: This blog entry is adapted from Cora’s presentation at the ‘BERA-BAICE Writing for Publication Workshop’ held on 2 March 2018 at King’s College London.

Among the many encouraging positive comments I received at the BERA-BAICE Writing for Publication Workshop, a persistent message conveyed by other early career researchers was this: it was important for them to learn about not only my successful publication experience, but also my vulnerability in the face of rejections. Given space constraints, in this post I will focus solely on how I dealt with rejections. For other sharing of my publication experiences, please refer to this post and my upcoming posts on the BERA blog and BERA Research Intelligence.

Over and above all, I want to demonstrate that, IT IS POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH, for somebody like me, who is not particularly gifted in writing, who does not know many grand English words, who does not speak English as a first language and whose article manuscripts kept getting rejected.

It is…possible

Cora Lingling Xu

It is possible to publish, although one has to undergo quite a lot of hardships. The biggest one of which is probably rejections. In my own experience, during my PhD years (2012-2016), I had been rejected three times over two different articles. My articles were rejected by Sociology, The China Quarterly and The Journal of Contemporary China. During the first year of my post-PhD period (2016-2017), I was rejected once—this time it was a co-authored paper for which I am the lead author, by Race, Ethnicity and Education.

Despite these discouraging rejections, there is still consolation that it is possible to publish. During my PhD, I had three articles published, respectively in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, and European Educational Research Journal. During my first post-PhD year (2016-2017), I had one article published by The Sociological Review and one accepted for publication in the International Studies in Sociology of Education.


Working towards reviewers’ comments with a prospect of getting it accepted is a hard process, but at least it is hopeful and encouraging. How about when you get rejections? When my articles got rejected, I was of course very sad. After some recovery time (usually a week or two), I started to plan the way forward. Today I want to share with you two such examples of rejections and the subsequent publications.

The first is my article published in The Sociological Review. It was submitted to Sociology in July 2016 and rejected in October 2016. Despite the rejection, the reviewers’ feedback was extremely helpful. Then I did not have time to work on it until the following year as I was settling into my new lectureship job at Keele University. I did some follow up research between December 2016 and January 2017, and almost completely rewrote the paper and submitted it to The Sociological Review in May 2017. This time all the three reviewers were very positive about the article, so there were only some minor revisions and it was accepted on 22 August. The initial rejection was very disheartening. But I do appreciate the editor at Sociology’s encouraging words and the reviewers’ feedback. What I have learned from this process is that I should not take the rejection personally, but to benefit from the reviewers’ feedback and make it work for my next publication.

However, the next example I am going to share with you is somewhat different—in that no reviewers’ feedback was provided. This is my article that has been accepted for publication in International Studies in Sociology of Education, to be published in mid-2018.  This one was initially submitted to The China Quarterly on 19 Aug 2016 and was rejected on 2 Sept 2016. It was a desk rejection. The editors explained that they had received a few articles on similar topics and were not interested in such articles any more. Although disheartened, I quickly revised the format and sent it to The Journal of Contemporary China on 17 September, which was then rejected on 29 September 2016. This time it was desk rejection again and no feedback was provided whatsoever.  Because there was no reviewers’ feedback, there was little way to go about it. I then conducted a follow-up phase of the study and collected further data. Meanwhile, I sent the rejected article to another critical friend who came back with a heap of helpful suggestions. Then I substantially revised the paper by drawing on new data and theoretical tools and submitted this to the International Studies in Sociology of Education.

This time there were three rounds of reviewers’ feedback and revisions. It took a lot of patience and one lesson that I learned was ‘Haste makes waste’. In the second round of revision, I hurried to provide a revision within three days, only to receive further revision requests that were mainly stemmed from my hasty changes made. This is also to do with the fact that English is not my first language. In the third round of revision, I took time to deliberate on my expressions and invited native English speakers to comment on my changes. The article was eventually accepted in December 2017. What I have learned in this process is that when there is no feedback it is quite important to be critical of your own work, but never give up or abandon your ideas altogether.

Cora presenting at BERA-BAICE Writing for Publication Workshop. Photo credit: Yuwei Xu

Non-native English writers

Throughout my publication trajectory thus far, I have been battling with the challenges of being a non-native English writer. Well, the good news is that academic English is nobody’s native tongue. It is a completely new set of convention and linguistic practices that everybody has to consciously acquire. Still, not being a native English speaker does not help. This is of course spoken with the knowledge that at university I was an English major student and I in fact taught English as a second language at secondary schools in Hong Kong. In other words, my English proficiency is not too bad to begin with. However, my social background means that I did not grow up in a household full of books and I had not read extensively. As a result, it has never been my strong suit to use big, intelligent and elegant words in my writing. Instead, I have found personally that clarity is key. Making my texts easily understandable not only allows the editors and reviewers to engage with my work, but it also forces me to confront with my ideas in a straightforward manner. If an idea cannot be expressed in plain and simple language, then perhaps it is not well formulated enough. Of course, striving for clarity is not easy. This is where peer feedback has been instrumental. For every manuscript that I send for peer reviews, I ensure that I get critical feedback from at least two or three peer authors. Over these years, I have cultivated a group of critical friends with whom I share my writing and get feedback from. Of course, I strive as much as possible to reciprocate such favours. As I am a second language speaker, I also always ensure that before I submit a manuscript, I get professional proofreading services. This seems to work quite well. Lastly, it always helps to believe that I can. I keep telling myself that ‘I can do it’ every day and every time I face a difficult task or a harsh remark.

As early career academics we are operating within an increasingly challenging environment. Performance indicators and managerial measurements can so readily creep in our everyday work and subconsciousness in harmful ways. Rejections, therefore, can be detrimental if not handled properly. The purpose of this post therefore, is to show that although rejections are BAD, if you adapt and persist, IT IS STILL POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH, even if English is not your native tongue!

Author Bio

Dr Cora Lingling Xu (PhD, Cambridge, FHEA) is Assistant Professor at Durham University, UK. She is an editorial board member of British Journal of Sociology of Education, Cambridge Journal of Education and International Studies in Sociology of Education. In 2017, Cora founded the Network for Research into Chinese Education Mobilities. Cora has published in international peer-reviewed journals, including British Journal of Sociology of Education, The Sociological Review, International Studies in Sociology of Education, Review of Education, European Educational Research Journal and Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. Her research interests include Bourdieu’s theory of practice, sociology of time, rural-urban inequalities, ethnicity, education mobilities and inequalities and China studies. She can be reached at, and via Twitter @CoraLinglingXu. Download her publications here.

中文摘要-Church Participation as Intercultural Encounter in the Experiences of Chinese International Students in the UK

随着国际学生的不断增加,学生流动方面的研究主要集中于跨文化教育以及社会融入。本研究探索了在英中国留学生(非基督徒)参与教堂文化活动的社会现象。该研究采用多种研究方法,包括:问卷,半结构式深入访谈,参与观察以及文献分析,深入分析了基督教堂与中国留学生互动交流的原因,目的,以及影响。该研究还探索了西方基督教文化和中国学生的宗教文化背景,揭露了英国基督教堂对中国学生战略性传教活动以及拓展中国基督教市场的愿景。研究分析指出,国际学生与当地环境的社会联结以及互动平台的性质对学生跨文化适应以及个人成长发挥重要影响。 除了解释学生参与教堂活动背后的动态机制,该研究认为,大量中国学生涌入英国校园(特别是商学院)限制了学生多元文化交流。从某种意义上来说,教堂的一系列针对中国学生的文化活动提供了更多(相较于大学校园)的社会融入与垮文化参与的机会,大学需采取措施在多元文化的校园环境下推动切实有效的跨文化融合与交流。