Changing Hong Kong university students' national identity through studying abroad

Yan Ni Annie CHENG, Sing Ying Elson SZETO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore whether there are any effects on Hong Kong university students' national identity after short-term study abroad. If so, what sources of influence from the short-term study abroad programme contribute to the students' change in national identity?
Design/methodology/approach: Using the case study approach, 85 students completed a questionnaire, and a small group of 12 students were invited to individual interviews for further investigation.
Findings: Results show that the students' perceptions of national identity are multiple and complicated through the lens of four components of national identity. The responses of students' perceptions of change in identity were pointed to three statements: "feeling prouder of being Chinese", "Hongkongers are very different from mainland Chinese" and "no change in my views of national identity". The influences of study abroad experiences on national identity varied, dependent on the students' interaction with the local and non-local people, and reflection on their own identity, whether on the cultural or political differences or on national achievements.
Research limitations/implications: The findings of this study can inform educators and administrators to enhance profound short-term study abroad experience for the students. The limitation of this case study is that it is concerned with understanding how small numbers of students construct meaning from their individual experience. It is recommended that studies with larger sampling sizes be conducted to investigate students' perceptions of their national identity before and after studying abroad.
Originality/value: Considering the increasing number of Hong Kong youths who have participated in these short-term study-abroad programmes in higher education, the findings of this study are significant in terms of awakening the students' taken-for-granted national identity, if any. The programme serves as a means of triggering the students' feelings and emotions regarding their identity in different national, social and cultural contexts. This can inform policy makers, educational administrators and teachers to formulate an appropriate national education curriculum for the youth. Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-247
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Cheng, A., & Szeto, E. (2019). Changing Hong Kong university students' national identity through studying abroad. Asian Education and Development Studies, 8(2), 233-247. doi: 10.1108/AEDS-05-2017-0045


  • Chineseness
  • Ethnicity
  • University students
  • National identity
  • Hong Kong youth
  • Short-term study abroad


Dive into the research topics of 'Changing Hong Kong university students' national identity through studying abroad'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.