Transitioning in-between: Chinese Students’ Navigating Experiences in Transnational Higher Education Programmes

Research Highlighted:

Dai, K. (2022). Transitioning ‘In-Between’. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. doi:


by Dr Kun DAI, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In the past few decades, a growing number of scholars have explored topics related to transitional higher education (TNHE) and other relevant concepts (e.g., neoliberalism, globalisation, internationalisation, and marketisation). According to de Wit (2020), from 2010 to 2020, the number of international students has rapidly increased, and different types of TNHE (e.g., franchise operations, articulation programmes, branch campuses, and online education) have also been developed. The development of TNHE cannot be separated from the influence of globalisation. Higher education has been widely exported and imported between many developing and developed countries. Moreover, with the rapid development of the global economy and ICTs, especially the Internet, different cultures, societies, and countries have more opportunities to connect with others. Such close connections become an essential factor that promotes more in-depth cross-national communications in the field of higher education. However, students’ experiences in TNHE are still under-researched.

This book offers an account of Chinese students’ intercultural learning experiences in China-Australia transnational articulation programmes (TAP), which is one type of TNHEs. While these students learn in programmes that Chinese and Australian partner universities collaboratively operate, differences in educational practices still make them encounter barriers. To deal with cross-system differences, some students indicate a positive sense of agency. However, some of them feel disempowered. Notably, many students develop a sense of in-betweenness through learning in such programmes. Based on the investigation, Kun Dai argues that intercultural learning and adjustment in the transnational higher education context may become more complex than other forms of international education.

This book has eight chapters. The first chapter outlines the background, significance of this study, and research design. In Chapter 2, theoretical concepts/frameworks and empirical literature are discussed, respectively. From Chapters 3 to 6, findings are illustrated. Specifically, Chapter 3 focuses on illustrating students’ motivations and initial concerns in their TAPs. Chapter 4 maps their trajectories of intercultural learning and adjustment, especially as experienced in the Australian context, and compare their experiences in China. In Chapter 5, key factors influencing students’ intercultural learning and adjustment in TAPs is analysed. The author’s reflexive analysis as an “in-betweener” is presented in Chapter 6 to compare his experiences with participants’ journeys. In Chapter 7, Kun Dai systematically discusses the findings and attempt to propose a new conceptual lens to understand different types of “intercultural learning and adjustment” in a cross-cultural context and at a micro-political level. The last chapter, Chapter 8, concludes this book by pointing out the limitations of the reported research and providing future research suggestions.

Author Bio

Dr. Kun Dai is an Assistant Professor based at Department of Educational Administration and Policy, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on transnational education, intercultural learning and adjustment, educational policy, and international student mobility. His research outputs have appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Compare, Journal of Studies in International Education, and Higher Education Research & Development. Dr Dai serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of International Students. Email: