Sense of Belonging and Retention in Higher Education:

an Empirical Study across Chinese Universities


  • Amir Mahmood Xian Jiaotong University Xian, China
  • Irum Andleeb Virtual University of Pakistan. VU Lahore, Pakistan
  • Mussarat Iqbal
  • Xiao Huang Zhejiang Normal University, ZNU, Jinhua, China



Belongingness, Retention, Academic Engagement, International students, Higher Education, China


A sense of belonging in university is a crucial factor encompassing appreciation, involvement, and welcoming emotions. University students with a stronger sense of belonging tend to exhibit greater motivation, academic self-assurance, higher academic participation, and better performance. The present study involved 335 participants from 13 academic departments across five universities. For data analysis, the researcher utilized the varimax rotation method to conduct Principal Component Analysis (PCA) as part of the factor analysis. The findings revealed that academic and social engagement independently influence students’ sense of belonging and retention. By examining critical disadvantage factors, such as social class, age, and nationality, this research study fills a gap in the existing literature on the relationship between these factors and the sense of belonging and retention in higher education. By providing insights into the significance of a sense of belonging in university, this research study offers practical implications for new researchers, enabling them to explore the potential benefits of fostering a stronger sense of belonging among students. Such benefits include greater motivation, academic self-assurance, increased academic participation, and improved overall performance. Future researchers can Conduct qualitative and longitudinal studies to provide a deeper understanding of the long-term effects of students’ sense of belonging on their academic performance, persistence, and overall well-being.

Author Biography




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