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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Human Resources for Health 1/2019

Migration intentions of Asian and African medical students educated in China: a cross-sectional study

Human Resources for Health > Ausgabe 1/2019
Wen Li, Hong Sun
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In recent years, the number of students from Asian and African countries to study medicine in China has been on the rise. This study investigated the migration intentions of China-educated international medical students (IMSs) after graduation and the factors that influence the migration intentions.


The cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study involved the IMSs from the 2nd to the 6th year of degree course at Xuzhou Medical University, China, conducted from April to July of 2018. The self-administrated questionnaire asked questions on students’ migration destinations for short-term stay and permanent stay. The influence of gender, continent of origin, academic performance, and family socioeconomic background on the migration intentions was analyzed. Chi-square tests were used for statistical analysis.


Among 266 valid responses, 124 (46.62%) students intended to return to their home countries. This intention to return was associated with Asian citizenship, lower academic performance, and middle/lower family socioeconomic status. The remaining 142 students desired to stay temporarily or permanently outside their home countries. The starting time for them to stay outside home countries was immediately after graduation or some time later. Among them, 88 (61.97%) expected to migrate to a high-income country. The intention to migrate to high-income countries was associated with female gender and higher academic grades. For students who intended to stay outside their home countries, the most popular destination for short-term stay was China, and that for permanent stay was the USA.


IMSs with characteristics of Asian citizenship, lower academic performance, or middle/lower family socioeconomic status are more likely to return to their home countries after graduation, and those with characteristics of female gender or higher academic grades are more likely to migrate to high-income countries. These results suggest that China-educated IMSs constitute a potential resource of healthcare workforce not only for their home countries, but also for the recipient countries. Our findings provide important information on healthcare workforce planning for the governments of the relevant countries.
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