SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (4): 668-678.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2023.04.010

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Migration of "double first-class" university students from the geographic perspective: Spatial pattern, driving forces and equity implications

Zhang Weiyang1,2,3(), Qian Yuxin1,2,3, Cui Can1,2,3,4()   

  1. 1. Research Center for China Administrative Division, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. Research Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    3. Institute of Eco-Chongming, East China Normal University, Shanghai 202162, China
    4. Institute for Strategic Development of Talents, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2022-02-16 Revised:2022-04-26 Online:2023-04-30 Published:2023-04-20
  • Contact: Cui Can;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42271223);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171233);Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(2022ECNU-XWK-XK001)


Based on the data of "double first-class" university enrollment in 2018, this study depicted the inter-provincial migration network of university students and explored its spatial pattern, driving forces and equity implications. The results show that a large number of "double first-class" university enrollment quotas are allocated within a provincial level region or within a macro-region (i.e., eastern region, central region, western region and northeastern region of China), while the inter-provincial student migration is mainly from provinces (municipalities) with large population to provinces (municipalities) with resourceful higher education, resulting in the human capital flight in the central and western China. The pattern of student migration shares similarities with labor migration in terms of flowing to relatively developed regions but also demonstrates differences due to its particularities of migrating for higher education. The number of examinees of the college entrance examination, the scale of enrollment quotas, economic development differences, special admission policy, cultural affinity and geographical distance all have an influence on the flows of student migration. In terms of equity, the Gini coefficient in admission rates per capita and admission rates per examinee are not large between provincial levels, but significant differences exist in intra-provincial admission rates and in extra-provincial admission rates for each university. Similarly, at the regional level, there is also a significant difference between intra-regional and inter-regional admission rates. For some provinces (municipalities), the enrollment quota of "double first-class" universities as well as the intra-provincial admission rate are low, and furthermore, a large number of students flow out. Based on these findings, this study highlights the importance of considering students migration as an essential part of talent mobility and its long-term effects on the regional development imbalance at a macro level. Higher education system should be given more attention when tackling the dilemma of human capital flight.

Key words: college enrollment, student migration, human capital, talent flow, educational equity

CLC Number: 

  • K901