The pandemic has only had a “limited impact” on overseas study, Chinese private educational services provider New Oriental has said, as it predicted competition for high-quality educational resources will only “be fiercer” in the years ahead.
Research that the education company has released suggest that parents with overseas education experiences and students wishing to broaden their international visions and gain enriching life experience are continuing to drive Chinese student to seek opportunities abroad.
“In 2022, 48% of students who intend to study abroad have already had overseas study experiences, and this percentage has been rising continuously for eight years,” the report said.
New Oriental attributed the trend to a rising interest in international study from Chinese parents who view overseas programs as highly enriching experiences for their children.
“Over 70% of parents intend to send their children to study abroad when their children are in elementary, middle, and high school,” the report stated. Among students – who made up 82% of respondents – 48% said they intend to study abroad during their undergraduate years.
Overall in 2022, 43% of the 6,800 respondents indicated the student was currently studying and staying abroad – a considerable rise from 2021 when 15% said the same.
The US recorded the highest proportion of returned Chinese students, with 60% currently in the country. Canada and the UK followed closely behind with 52% and 51%, respectively, of Chinese students in country. The report put down the success for the US to its “more open” visa policy and travel restrictions.
When determining their study abroad destination, the report shows that over 50% of Chinese students will evaluate the pandemic restrictions per-country and choose regions that are relatively safer in terms of Covid-19 outbreaks.
However, the research highlights that, although widely considered as the destination with the leading education quality, the number of school-aged Chinese students in the US is seeing a downward trend. Singapore and Hong Kong are “getting more popular among people intending to studying abroad in 2022”, the report noted.
According to New Oriental, Chinese overseas students have three main considerations when choosing their destination that have remained unchanged: education level; security; and recognition for future employment.
“More attention is paid to university rankings and appropriate majors when choosing universities for people intending to study abroad,” the report notes, adding that more students are basing their destination decision on the status of the school.
The percentage of respondents saying that university ranking and the availability of an appropriate major were the top two considerations, with 66% and 60%, respectively, indicating that they had been a factor.
However the report also says that more widely, people intending to study abroad “hold more rational attitudes towards rankings”, despite ranking still having a strong influence on people’s choices.
There’s also been a decline in the consideration of scholarships, as the Chinese economy is improving and study abroad budgets have risen.
Average budgets for overseas studies among Chinese students have risen from 492,000 yuan in 2018 to 535,000 yuan in 2022, the report added.
Despite this – which New Oriental suggested was a result of improved economic conditions and a growing need for budgets to tackle pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns – Chinese students are spending less when abroad.
The expenses made by Chinese students while abroad are becoming “more rationalised”, the company suggested.
The research also analysed the wider impact of the pandemic on study abroad aspirations.
Despite Covid-19, 86% of Chinese overseas students still persist in their study abroad goals, also believing study abroad to be an investment for enriching their futures.
Some 93% of these students were reported to need assistance from overseas study agencies, and nearly 70% of them chose the agency they wanted to work with at least one year before their program started.
New Oriental also reported a downward trend in negative opinion toward study abroad as the field continues to gain popularity in China.
“Undoubtedly, studying abroad is still the necessity of this generation”
“The proportion of people who firmly reject overseas study have declined, which indicate the capabilities of overseas students have been recognised gradually,” the report stated.
Assistant vice president of New Oriental Education & Technology Group and president of New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting, Sun Tao, said international education “remains strong”, and government and Chinese society continues to emphasise that “study abroad is an important path to develop international talents”.
Last year was full of challenges for New Oriental, he noted. The company began to sell farm produce and closed its online K-12 subsidiary, as a result of China’s clampdown on edtech. The FT reported the company let go of 60,000 workers and posted losses of $876m.
Minister of Education Huai Jinpeng has said China will “continue to facilitate high-quality education opening-up, bring in premier educational resources, support overseas study, and improve the quality of international students who will study in China”, Tao added.
“Undoubtedly, studying abroad is still the necessity of this generation. In the future, competition for high-quality educational resources will become more intense.”
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