Studying overseas is no longer reserved for the wealthy and upper classes in China, but is now common for all families. So finds a new white paper looking into Chinese studying abroad in 2019, revealing the current mentality, planning and choices for Chinese acquiring an overseas education, of one kind or another.
Compiled by New Oriental Education, one of the biggest English training institutions in China, the paid-for publication states that the number of Chinese overseas students reached 662,100 in 2018, an increase of 8.33 percent over 2017. New Oriental observes that, “While the tide of studying abroad at a younger age is growing, the number of students heading overseas at the postgraduate stage is also increasing significantly”.
With 5 years of data available, slightly more long term trends can now be observed. The white paper finds that the proportion of overseas students with white-collar parents has increased year by year, in 2019 accounting for 43 percent of the total.
Such a change of family background is down to two things. Firstly, more and more families have the intention of studying abroad, hoping to cope with the pressure of competition for employment and other changes in the social environment; secondly, the opening of international educational resources and the development of the education service industry have created more favourable conditions for ordinary families.
The trendy destination for students remains the USA, with 43 percent of students hoping to go Stateside in 2019. The UK is rapidly becoming a firm favourite too, with the proportion of people who intend to study in Great Britain rising sharply to 41 percent. Numbers are also up for Hong Kong, Germany and Japan, while Australia and Canada still take home the third and fourth places, respectively.
When asked why they want to study abroad, more than half of students surveyed hope to broaden horizons, enrich their life experience and acquire advanced knowledge through their overseas experience. As for expectations, neither do they look to earn back the cost of their education, nor do they view money as a means of determining whether it is worth studying abroad.
The white paper has also revealed a rise in pragmatism amongst the Chinese when making their choices as to education abroad. Over the past 3 years, the proportion of interest-oriented program choices has slightly declined. In contrast, when choosing majors, those who intend to study abroad pay more attention to the ranking of schools, admission rates and curriculum difficulty. Although interest remains the major factor in making choices, students are becoming more rational, paying careful consideration as to whether they can learn the subject well before making their final decision.
After the study, more and more students are choosing to work back home. Over the past 5 years, the number of people returning to China immediately after graduation has been rising steadily. New Oriental Education analysed that this phenomenon is related to the saturation of the foreign employment market, while studying abroad certainly also increases competitiveness in domestic employment.
In addition, the trend is indicative of three external factors; that it is becoming considerably more difficult for Chinese to stay on in other countries after completing their education, that China now offers a higher standard of living and better quality of life, and last but not least, China itself seeks the return of her more qualified citizens to assist in the country’s rejuvenation.