More and more Chinese students are traveling abroad for their undergraduate studies. The reason, according to industry insiders, are increasing affluence and currency appreciation.
The Ministry of Education reported last month that a record 840,000 high school graduates did not register for the gaokao (university entrance exam) this year.
It has been argued that this was due to the increasing number of Chinese students wanting to study abroad.
The total number of students traveling abroad to study increased from 144,000 in 2007 to 170,000 last year and the figure will probably top 200,000 this year. This according to Feng Jishang, marketing manager of Wiseway, a consulting firm that advises students and their parents about overseas schools.
Years ago, most Chinese students who went abroad would first complete their undergraduate studies in China before applying to an overseas graduate school. But this trend is changing.
According to industry estimates, the proportion of students seeking their first degree abroad has risen to 30 to 50% of all overseas-bound students. That means there could be as many as 60,000 to 100,000 such students this year — triple the number in 2003.
Rapid economic growth, coupled with a currency that has risen by more than 20% against the US dollar over the last four years, is making an overseas education more affordable for Chinese students.
Another reason is that there simply aren’t enough places in Chinese colleges, especially the higher-rated ones, to satisfy the demand for a university education.
Feng of Wiseway said, "Four in ten students taking the gaokao won’t get university places. Furthermore, of those that do, many don’t get into the schools of their choice. That is why more are going abroad."
The illustration is from Student Abroad, which was produced in association with CCTV – China’s largest television network. This 20-episode family dramatic television series is a candid look into the lives of four young Chinese students living and studying abroad in Canada. The entire series was broadcasted over the 2005-2006 season with rave reviews.