Montreal, London, HK are top foreign study destinations

Updated: 2013-07-16 07:13

By Yang Ziman (China Daily)

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Montreal, London, HK are top foreign study destinations

Time spent at schools abroad lends luster to resume, opens opportunities

Bank of Communications Ltd - one of China's largest banks - has ranked Montreal, London and Hong Kong as the top education destinations for Chinese people.

Bocom's 80-city list is called the Sea Turtle Index because the pronunciation of "sea turtle" in Chinese is the same as "coming back from overseas."

In China, local people who have studied or worked overseas are regarded as having language advantages and a better understanding of the global work culture. Therefore, "sea turtles" often have an edge over local graduates in the job market.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, more than 4.1 million students sought higher education overseas in 2011.

In China, educational institutes offering their services to help students get accepted in their dream universities are booming. However, when faced with too many choices, students and parents often find it difficult to pick the right one.

Bocom's index and the accompanying White Paper - compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an independent research and analysis firm owned by the Economist Group - offer a set of comprehensive standards to choose the ideal education destination.

Education rankings usually look at universities or majors. The Sea Turtle Index, however, regards education as a form of investment and has factored in elements influencing its returns, apart from education quality, including financial returns, real estate returns, work experience, as well as the quality of the social and cultural experience on offer.

Many parents also want to invest in the destinations where their children receive their education.

"Metropolitan cities with world-class facilities are ideal places for investment," said Liam Bailey, chief of dwelling houses at Knight Frank, an international real estate firm. "If the investor happens to have educational needs there, they will make an investment decision more quickly."

In addition, students usually want to gain some work experience in the country where they attend college so that their resumes look more attractive to Chinese employers.

Other factors, such as a multicultural and safe environment, are also important aspects of education returns.

"Education is one of the most important investments within a family, particularly for mid- and high-income customers who expect high returns for sending their children overseas," said Leo Abruzzese, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "We've created the index to show that colleges ranking at the top do not necessarily guarantee a handsome payback. Other factors such as tuition fees, living costs and employment prospects have to be considered as well."

"The research is part of our initiatives to better inform high-income customers when it comes to their education investments," said Tao Wen, who is in charge of personal finance at Bocom. "These families value not just education but job opportunities for the children and investment possibilities for the parents."

Montreal, with its relatively low education costs and welcoming attitude to immigrants, scored 72.4 to reach the top of the list.

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