While other countries may offer quality education, it is America that remains the top choice for Chinese students.
THE United States (US) remains Chinese students’ top destination for studying abroad despite a slight sag in popularity, according to a recent survey.
Out of 21,352 interviewees aged between 15 and 36 years, 26.8% of those who plan to study abroad prefer the US as the destination country, down by 1.3% from last year’s survey, according to the annual report on trends in education abroad by China student recruitment agency EIC Group.
“The main reason behind the small decrease may be that the destinations of studying abroad are getting more diverse,” said Jin Ran, the group’s chief marketing officer, which has come out with the education abroad forecast for the past six years.
“For many European schools, they not only possess world-class reputation and top-notch education quality, but the public schools also offer free education,” he said.
“In addition, certain majors in countries outside the US are more competitive, such as luxury management in France, hotel management in Switzerland, logistics in Singapore and mechanical engineering in Germany,” Jin added.
The report shows increases in the number of students choosing Germany (3.6%) and Canada (3.1%) as their study destinations in 2014, and minor increases in those favouring Singapore (0.6 %) and France (0.3%).
Even with the slight dip in popularity for the US, he emphasised that the country’s leading position is still unthreatened.
“In general the US still takes the lead as the No. 1 country choice to study abroad for Chinese students.
“It is 9.5 % higher than that of the UK, the second most popular destination,” Jin said.
The quality of education offered by US schools was the main reason for the US dominance, he added.
In the report, 64.1% of those interviewed listed “education quality” as the main factor in selecting the country of their choice, about 20% more than those who based their choice on cost, the second-most considered factor, Jin said.
“I think US schools have the highest level of education quality,” Zhang Yan, a recent Master’s programme graduate from Columbia University, said.
“There are also so many good schools in the US to choose from.”
“In addition, the US, unlike many other countries, gives you some leeway for local job-hunting after the academic programme. There are also numerous opportunities for scholarships,” Zhang added.
This year’s results differ from last year’s significantly in that more people think studying abroad will bring better career opportunities — 17.3% in 2013 to 27.9% this year.
“This means that the job situation (in China) for the year of 2013 was considered the hardest year for employment and greatly affected students’ preference in education,” Jin said.
The sun, however, does not always shine brighter in the foreign land, according to some recent US graduates.
“Maybe I was overly optimistic about the job opportunities abroad.
“It is much harder than what I expected two years ago when I applied for graduate schools,” said Liu Dong, a Columbia University graduate who only considered US schools because of their better reputation and academic quality.
“But then the economy is bad in general, so the situation is not just bad for students studying abroad,” Liu said, adding that one had to look at the brighter side.
Liu said that the resources, connections and language abilities students gained from studying abroad would benefit them in the long term.
The report also found that there was an increase in the percentage of people who listed “climate and environment” as a major factor in selecting a country for their studies.
The smog in China had in a way indirectly influenced a student’s choice of studying abroad,” the report said.
“About half a million Chinese students are expected to study abroad in 2014.
The 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange said that, during the 2012-13 academic year, Chinese student enrolment at tertiary institutions in the US reached 235,597, compared with 194,029, a year earlier. - Asia News Network
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