Graduate employability and international education: an exploration of foreign students’ experiences in China

Kun Dai, Thanh Pham

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite the increasing research attention on international graduates’ employability and vocational development, most studies have focused on their employability in developed countries; little is known about their employability in developing countries such as China. In this qualitative study, 15 international graduates from two Chinese universities voluntarily participated in in-depth interviews to share their insights about how they negotiated employability in China. The study employed Bourdieu’s cultural theory, Tomlinson’s graduate capital model, and Pham’s employability agency framework as complementary conceptual frameworks. The findings revealed that international graduates in China strategically developed various capital (e.g., human, social, identity, cultural, psychological, identity, and agentic) to navigate the Chinese labour market. To some extent, the role of these capitals in the Chinese context was distinct. This study suggests that different stakeholders should collaboratively support international students in China to develop and utilise various employability capital during and after their study programme.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • agency
  • capital
  • China
  • employability
  • Higher education
  • international students

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