Number of Chinese students studying in US may hit turning point due to COVID-19, worsening bilateral ties: report
Published: Mar 02, 2021 04:11 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The number of Chinese students going to study in the US may hit a turning point due to the COVID-19 pandemic and deteriorating China-US relations. But the number of Chinese people studying abroad will continue to grow as overseas study destinations become more diversified, according to a Chinese think tank report on Tuesday. 

The Center for China and Globalization (CCG) released a report on Chinese students studying abroad on Tuesday, outlining China's overseas study situation during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and analyzing the trend of students returning to China. 

The report noted that the US, China's number one overseas studying destination, could see a downturn in the number of Chinese students due to the COVID-19 pandemic and worsened China-US relations. 

Although the total number of students in the US has continued to increase over the past 15 years, the growth rate has dropped from 29.9 percent in 2009-2010 to 0.8 percent in 2019-2020, the report noted. 

According to the IIE 2020 Open Doors Report, about 373,000 Chinese students were studying in the US during the 2019-2020 academic year, accounting for 35 percent of all international students in US colleges and universities. Among them, 37 percent were pursuing master's degrees or above, and 40 percent were pursuing bachelor's degrees. 

Zhang Weiyong, a US-based expert on overseas education, told the Global Times that several overseas study agencies have shut down due to the decline in the number of students applying to study in the US.  

"Recently, several parents told me that their agencies had closed. Some said the agencies’ services became worse due to layoffs, including some large-scale or listed companies," Zhang said.

The CCG report said that the choice of destination countries for Chinese students may become further diversified as many people will turn to countries with a more friendly study environment and visa policies and more effective epidemic control measures. 

The statistics provided by EIC Education, a Chinese company that provides overseas educational counseling services, showed that the proportion of students who chose to go to Japan, Singapore and New Zealand in 2020 all showed an increase compared to 2019, with the UK being the top destination country, and the US ranking second.

Despite the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic brought to China's overseas studying market, Chinese students' actual demand for receiving education abroad has not been significantly affected, the CCG report noted, saying the number of Chinese students studying abroad continued to see growth. 

China's Ministry of Education (MOE) and other authorities issued a document in June, 2020, reiterating that studying abroad will remain an important channel for China to cultivate and train young talents needed for China's modernization drive, highlighting the need to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic.

The CCG report also provided insights on the development of overseas returnees in China, noting that having an international vision has become the new core factor giving overseas returnees a competitive edge in the job market. 

According to data from the MOE, the number of returned students from abroad continues to rise in 2019, reaching 58,000, an increase of 12 percent compared with 2018.  

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