US still top choice for students

Updated: 2013-07-24 10:54

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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The latest report from a China-based overseas study service says the US is the top choice for Chinese students' overseas study, followed by the UK and Australia.

According to the Education International Cooperation Group, 28 percent of Chinese students with overseas study plans picked the US, while 18 percent chose the UK and 14 percent opted for Australia.

The US is a pioneer in luring Chinese students, who come for bachelor, master's and PhD degrees, the report said.

This year, more than 56 percent of Chinese candidates in overseas PhD studies named the US as their top destination, followed by Australia, Canada and Germany, with just over 6 percent.

As for bachelor degree studies, the US attracts 30 percent of Chinese overseas students, still higher than the 18 percent for Australia and 17 percent for the UK.

The gaps among foreign destinations for master's degrees show a smoother gradient, with the US attracting 26 percent of Chinese overseas students, followed by 20 percent for the UK and 14 percent for Australia.

According to the report, more than 70 percent of Chinese students were the decision makers themselves for the destinations of their overseas studies in 2013.

The report also finds that middle-class families in China have become the largest group of overseas study consumers who can afford the hefty investment of higher education.

This year, Chinese families with an annual income around 300,000 yuan ($49,000) who send their children to study abroad showed an increase of 2.6 percent over a record number in 2012, the report said.

Nearly 40 percent of Chinese families surveyed said they were willing to spend up to 20-to-50 percent of their assets on their children's overseas studies.

"The flood of Chinese students entering universities and high schools in the US is not just improving Chinese students' international vision, but it's also helping these universities and schools balance their budgets," said Zhang Meng, a senior manager at CACDIY International, a Beijing-based organization that helps Chinese students arrange to study abroad.

The US Department of Commerce says that education and training bring about $21 billion a year into the country.

International students benefit not only the host universities, but also local economies, as they are consumers of text books, housing, transportation, health insurance and some bring other family members along for company.

An earlier report by the Institute of International Education said almost 70 percent of all international students' primary funding, including tuition, comes from sources outside of the US.

"I bought a car and booked travel tickets for my family to Yellow Stone National Park next year," said Diana Xiao, a Chinese girl who is studying for her master's degree in San Francisco.

"Most of our parents would tell us to spend money on better cultural immersion and to keep a high standard of living and not on them accompanying us overseas," she said.

In November of 2012, an estimated 158,000 Chinese students were enrolled in US schools, about 22 percent of the overall international student population.

(China Daily USA 07/24/2013 page2)