Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan more attractive . . .
Chinese youths’ interest in studying in Western countries has “plummeted,” according to a new working paper published by Oxford University. The results are based on a survey of more than 2,700 students in Mainland China and Hong Kong. They show that not only are more students planning to remain within China for their university degrees, but also that among those still seeking to leave the Mainland, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan are now top choices. Canada, which previously ranked fifth in top destinations, is no longer among the top five.
Concerns about safety, proximity shaping preferences . . .
The paper found that health and safety were a major driver of students’ changing calculations. The U.K. and U.S., which faltered badly in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, managed to remain among the top preferences. This staying power is likely due to their higher-education sectors' size and the prestige of their top universities. Australia, which previously ranked third, lost ground and is forecast to lose 150,000 Chinese international students this year. Taiwan appears to be one of the beneficiaries. Previously, it never cracked the top 10, but its reputation has been boosted by outperforming virtually every other jurisdiction in its handling of the pandemic.
Short-term vs. long-term trends . . .
In 2019, Canada reached its highest number of international students ever – more than 640,000. Approximately 140,000 were from China, making it the second-largest contributing country (India was first) and the largest contributor to Canada’s university sector. Whether COVID-19’s impact on Asian students coming to Canada is short- or long-term is yet to be seen. On the one hand, Canadian post-secondary schools have worked hard to minimize border and campus closures' adverse effects. On the other hand, many observers believe that the ‘regionalization’ of student flows – that is, East Asian students choosing universities much closer to home – is a durable and longer-term trend. This is especially notable as the region’s governments invest in and improve their higher-education sectors and rise in international rankings.
- Times Higher Education: Chinese interest in studying abroad plummets amid pandemic
- University World News: Asia rises, US, UK, Europe decline in new QS rankings
- The Varsity: Tuition, mental wellness, and Sino-phobia: Chinese international students have unique concerns