Choosing GIS graduate programs from afar: Chinese students’ perspectives


With the increasing demands for geospatial analytics in industry and academia, the need for Geographic Information Systems/Science (GIS) education is on the rise. A growing number of departments in geography have launched or expanded their GIS graduate programs. At least nine GIS-related graduate programmes have been launched in three UCL institutions, i.e., CASA, CEGE and Geography, with different emphases. However, the factors influencing students choosing GIS programs have not been examined yet. In this study, we looked at Chinese students applying for overseas GIS programs and examined factors influencing their decision-making. We distributed the survey in GISphere, one of the largest GIS international student communities, and 84 valid questionnaires were returned. We analysed the spatial and demographic patterns of Chinese students applying for overseas GIS programs. We identify five main factors that affect their choices of GIS programs: (1) education quality and awareness, (2) physical, social, and political environments, (3) improved employment prospects, (4) personal recommendations, and (5) application process. Our study supports future students' decision-making from a wide perspective, including consideration of future employment, and offers implications for the development of GIS graduate programs – it suggests that programs in UCL may emphasize advantages (e.g., high education quality, top ranking, and central-London location) to attract Chinese students. Despite this is only for GIS students but may also offer insights into other programs.

Apr 18, 2023 — Apr 19, 2023
London, UK

Check out the full paper:

Wang, Y., Kang, Y., Liu, H., Hou, C., Zhou, B., Ye, S., Liu, Y., Rao, J., Pei, Z., Ye, X., & Gao, S. (2023). Choosing GIS graduate programs from afar: Chinese students' perspectives. Transactions in GIS, 27, 450– 475.

Yikang Wang
Yikang Wang
PhD Student

Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), UCL