Chinese students prefer to study abroad

Latest report by QS finds Chinese students choose studying abroad to improve their employability

A new report by international higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) finds that Chinese students are strongly driven by international study as a stepping-stone to the global market.

The report found that 64% of the students choose a university for its quality of teaching, with 72% saying that the high standard of teaching is the main benefit of international studying. The students see studying abroad as a means to gain leverage in the competitive employment market on the return to China.

The only other group to hold global rankings in higher regard than regional or national ones are Latin American students, with 78% of students from both demographics choosing global rankings to direct their decision-making.

Employability is the next biggest concern for students, with 52% of those surveyed researching the university’s standings with employers when choosing an institution

Chinese students also display a distinctive view of teaching quality. As well as valuing practical approaches, they also perceive educational quality as being closely linked to the ability of a university to expose them to novel perspectives and approaches to the worlds of business and technology – as well as supporting the development of intercultural communication skills which are increasingly in-demand within China.

Xiang1, one of the students surveyed by QS, said: “China has a short capital market history. There are many things we need to learn from the US and UK, London and New York, to have more great advantages in the world of financial development.”

Other Chinese students perceive international study as necessary to launch academic careers in fields that remain, as yet, relatively inchoate in China. Anthropology student Tao said: “For my major, anthropology, we call it a Western major, because it’s come from outside. In China, only a few universities have this department.” For Tao, almost every professor to whom she was exposed had graduated from a university outside China, strengthening her belief that Chinese students seeking an academic career in anthropology needed to move abroad.

The “What Matters to International Students?” report series, of which this latest paper is the fourth instalment, is designed to identify and explain the push factors and pull factors contributing to the ever-increasing number of international students worldwide.

The findings are based on focus groups conducted in Shanghai and Beijing by QS researchers and report writers Dasha Karzunina and Laura Bridgestock, alongside responses to the QS Student Rankings Survey and QS World Grad School Tour Applicant Survey. The latter was recently acknowledged by ICEF Monitor for its insights into the factors affecting global postgraduate application trends. Previous reports have focused on international student motivations in India, Latin America, and the United States. The most recent report, focusing on China, can be found here.

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