The purpose of this empirical study is to investigate the effects of Emotional Intelligence (EI) on learning outcomes (social, cognitive, self-growth outcomes and satisfaction with the university experience) of students in Chinese research universities. This study further examines the mediating role of student trust in teachers (emotional and cognitive learning) and learning orientation (commitment to learning) in the relationship between EI and learning outcomes. This intent of this study was to examine the direct effects of learning outcomes on students' academic efficacy (cognitive skills and standardised tests). This study used a sample frame of 454 students from research universities in China. The relationships were tested through the partial least squares' structural equation modelling method. The results reveal that EI has a significant impact on learning outcomes. Furthermore, an indirect relation between EI and learning outcomes is established through student trust in teachers and in the learning orientation. The direct relation between learning outcomes and student academic efficacy is also established. There is a lack of studies that investigate the relationship of EI, student trust in teachers, learning orientation, learning outcomes and student academic efficacy. This is one of the initial research studies that not only empirically examine the interface of EI and learning outcomes of students of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) but offers insights into the existing literature by concurrent investigation of the mediating role of student trust in teachers and in the learning orientation in fundamental association, while explaining the association between learning outcomes and students' better academic efficacy.