Increasing numbers of Chinese students are now seeking higher degrees in Asian countries

New figures reveal that a growing number of mainland Chinese students are choosing to pursue their studies in Asian countries instead of Western nations. This shift is attributed, in part, to the comparatively lower costs involved.

However, experts also point to the high failure rates experienced by Chinese students in entrance examinations for advanced degrees at domestic universities as a significant contributing factor to this trend.

As per Qiang Zha, an associate professor of education at York University in Canada, the primary motivation behind Chinese students’ preference for Asian universities is the affordability of advanced degree programs.

Additionally, the highly competitive nature of graduate programs in China serves as a secondary reason for this trend.

According to surveys conducted by private education consultancies in China, the percentage of applicants who do not pass the postgraduate exam and subsequently apply to Asian universities ranges from 40% (estimated by Yangyang Study Abroad agency) to 66% (estimated by other less prominent agencies).

Official government data reveals that approximately three million test-takers were unable to secure admission to postgraduate programs last year due to intensifying competition.

As a result, many students opt to retake the exam multiple times in an effort to improve their scores. It is projected that this number could increase to four million in the current year.

The growing interest among Chinese students in Asian study destinations is also influenced by their preference for proximity to their home country.

The recently released 2023 White Paper on Studying in China by the New Oriental Education and Technology Group highlighted the steady growth of Chinese students in Southeast Asia, with the number increasing annually.

The report emphasized the significance of staying closer to home following the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the ease of cultural adaptation in the region. It estimated that there are at least 100,000 Chinese students currently studying in Southeast Asia.

Although the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada remain popular destinations for Chinese students, there is a new trend emerging where studying closer to home is gaining interest, particularly for bachelor’s degrees.

On the other hand, students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees have become more cautious in their choices since the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

The White Paper, released annually for the past nine years, reveals a notable increase in the number of Chinese students studying in Thailand, with the figures doubling within a span of five years.

According to a survey conducted by Vision Overseas Consulting, a subsidiary of New Oriental, the United States remains the top choice for Chinese undergraduate students studying abroad, although there has been a decline from 45% in 2019 to 34% in the recent survey. The survey included over 9,550 Chinese students from 34 provincial regions.

From 2019 to 2023, the proportion of Chinese students pursuing postgraduate studies in the United States decreased from 45% to 30%.

In contrast, the number of students heading to Hong Kong increased from 14% to 22%, and those going to Singapore rose from 9% to 15%.

According to the White Paper, the percentage of students going to the UK and Canada has remained stable over the past five years.



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By Ryan

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