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Chinese Students Drawn to Affordability

clock iconCreated At:11 June, 2023
write iconCreated By:Allaa Ashraf

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According to a recent research study titled "Pull factors in choosing a higher education study abroad destination after the massive global immobility: A reexamination from Chinese perspectives," conducted by Ka Ho Mok and Baohua Lucy Yu from Lingnan University in Hong Kong, it was discovered that tuition fees and living costs are the primary factors influencing Chinese students' decision on where to study abroad.

Furthermore, the research highlighted that Chinese students attach significant importance to their potential job prospects in China upon completing their degrees abroad. Experts speculate that this preference for employment opportunities in their home country could be attributed to the ongoing political tensions between the United States and China.

The research was conducted as a quantitative study aimed to identifying the influential factors that prospective Chinese international students and their parents considered valuable in the post-pandemic period.

Between November 2022 and January 2023, a total of 1,054 students and 184 parents participated in the survey.

When making decisions about where to study, students primarily took into account factors such as tuition cost (83.87%), living cost (69.55%), tuition language (67.74%), and Chinese employment prospects (54.84%).

Similarly, parents also considered similar factors, with tuition cost being the most frequently mentioned (84.24%), followed by living cost (68.48%), tuition language (63.59%), world ranking of institutions (53.26%), and Chinese employment prospects (51.63%).

During a recent webinar hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education, Ka Ho Mok discussed the research findings, stating, "Both parents and students have identified tuition cost and living cost as the primary factors when devising plans for studying overseas." Mok further explained that the impact of COVID-19 on the domestic, regional, and global economies necessitated considering financial capacity.

Historically, Chinese students have often prioritised rankings when selecting study-abroad destinations. However, the research indicates a growing emphasis on graduate employment. Approximately 48% of respondents considered world ranking a motivating factor, and 45% specifically mentioned the world ranking of institutions.

Presenting the research findings, Baohua Lucy Yu highlighted that between 1978 and 2019, a staggering 6,560,600 Chinese individuals obtained international degrees. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the mobility of Chinese students due to global lockdowns. This situation trapped inbound students in a challenging predicament where the cost of air tickets to return to China was prohibitively expensive.

Yu noted that there were reports of exorbitant air ticket prices during the pandemic, with one ticket from New York to China costing around $25,000, nearly seven times the normal fare.

Although China shifted its COVID policy from zero tolerance to one of coexistence in January 2023, resulting in improved mobility, the research indicates that Chinese students and parents remain mindful of the expenses associated with studying abroad.

Experts have also observed that the pandemic presented a complex array of challenges for students in the region.

Another noteworthy finding from the study is that 54.84% of students regarded Chinese employment prospects as a significant motivating factor.

Yu mentioned that immigration opportunities used to hold greater importance for Chinese students, but this perception is undergoing a transformation.

"With the international relationship between China and the allies of the US leading to a new cold war and tensions with other major Western powers," Yu explained, "Chinese parents and students may have concerns about safety issues. They may worry about being treated equally or facing discrimination if they choose to study in those countries."


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