Students find good value in Argentina

Updated: 2014-07-20 23:25


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Learning Spanish gives Chinese graduates a competitive edge

Although far from China, Argentina offers a favorable overseas study destination for Chinese students — especially for those who would like to study Spanish as a foreign language.

Liu Wei, who now works for a Spanish training institute in Shanghai, studied business management at the National University of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires in 2004.

"Many of my friends went to study in the United States or the United Kingdom, and they were surprised that I made such a non-mainstream decision," Liu said.

But she has never regretted it.

"I could learn business management and meanwhile acquire Spanish, which is a minor foreign language in China. Graduates who can speak Spanish (and Chinese) are hot tickets in the market both in China and Argentina," Liu said.

Before graduating in 2007, she said, she had received job offers from one of the biggest companies in Argentina and from the Peruvian embassy to China in Beijing. She chose the latter and later worked for the Costa Rican embassy to China.

Wang Shuyan, a Beijing resident whose son will be graduating with a degree in tourism management in Argentina at the end of the month, agreed with Liu.

Her son has received job offers from two big trade companies in China.

"If he chose to study in English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom or the United States, maybe it would not be so easy for him to land a job," she said.

Cao Sisheng, assistant chairman of Jiehengsen Education Corp, said these students' fortunate situation resulted from the increasingly closer ties between China and many South American nations in recent years.

The corporation is an Argentina-based organization that provides Spanish-language training and overseas study service to Chinese students who would like to study in Argentina and has been engaged in the business for more than 10 years.

"The demand for talent who can speak Spanish is increasing in China, but the teaching and training of the Spanish language in China cannot meet the fast-growing demand, making such talent in short supply," Cao said.

"Under such circumstances, graduates who receive higher education in Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina and can speak fluent Spanish are competitive for jobs in both China and Argentina."

Low cost is another reason Chinese students and their parents choose Argentina.

"It's easier to be admitted by Argentine universities than by universities in Spain, and education and living expenses are much lower than in European and North American countries," said Cao, noting that the full cost for a Chinese student studying in Argentina is about 150,000 yuan ($24,177) each year.

Wang agreed, saying she spent a total of 600,000 yuan during her son's past four years in Argentina. "If he went to study in the UK or the US, the cost may be double that," the mother said.

Cao said the number of Chinese students who go to study in Argentina with his company's help has been around 30 each year for several years.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education also showed that in 2012, a total of 100 Chinese students study in Argentina, accounting for a very small fraction of the 400,000 Chinese who went to study overseas that year.

"Argentina is a good destination for Chinese students who would like to study overseas — the low costs, the good employment prospects, the beautiful scenery and fresh air ... I'm sorry that many people don't know it," Liu said.

In 2010, Liu resigned from her job in Beijing and returned to Shanghai, her hometown, to work as a Spanish teacher.

"I often share my study experience in Argentina with my students now," she said.

"You don't know how much I wish to go back to Argentina again."