Following the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic and the relaxation of international travel policies across diverse nations, the study abroad sector for Chinese students is experiencing a gradual resurgence.

According to the “2023 Chinese Study Abroad White Paper,” published by EIC Education, the trend of Chinese students pursuing overseas education has demonstrated a consistent upward trajectory over the past two years, subsequent to reaching its nadir in 2020. Notably, the cumulative count of study abroad applications in the year 2022 exhibited a substantial surge of 23.4% in comparison to the figures of 2021. Noteworthy within this growth, Australia emerged as the most prominent beneficiary, observing an impressive year-on-year escalation of 84.9%. Closely following suit, the United Kingdom also witnessed a substantial rise, registering a growth rate of 32.8%.

Chinese Education Market

The UCAS admissions data reveals a noteworthy trend, indicating a collective sum of 1,380,505 international applicants during the period leading up to June 2023. Within this panorama, China retained its prominent status as the principal wellspring of international undergraduate applicants. Specifically, a substantial cohort of 30,700 students hailing from mainland China engaged in the submission of applications, marking a commendable ascent of 10 percent in comparison to the corresponding period of the preceding year.

The Institute of International Education in the United States recently unveiled the Open Doors 2022 Report, an extensive compilation of study abroad data within the realm of higher education for the academic year 2021/22. This comprehensive report sheds light on the landscape of international education in the United States. According to the findings of this report, the collective count of international students engaged in higher education pursuits in the United States for the academic year 2021-22 reached an impressive tally of 948,519. This figure represents a notable increment of 3.8% when contrasted with the preceding year. Notably, a substantial proportion of these students, accounting for 30.6%, originated from China, thereby reaffirming China’s continued distinction as the foremost wellspring of international students in the United States.

Chinese Education Market

Destination for Chinese middle school students to study abroad

The United States and the United Kingdom remain prominent as primary target countries for aspiring international students, while Canada holds a special appeal, particularly among secondary school students and below.

As we set our sights on 2023, the United Kingdom and the United States continue to capture the imaginations of those planning to study abroad. Notably, Canada’s allure is steadily rising, drawing secondary school students, a trend attributed to its exceptional education standards and accommodating policies.

With a storied legacy, rich cultural heritage, and abundant educational resources, the United Kingdom stands as a magnet for international students. Attracting and engaging students remains an ongoing challenge for various educational institutions seeking to enhance their appeal.

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Chinese student application preference

In the year 2022, prospective international students’ selection of majors has taken on a more purposeful and deliberate character than in previous years. This evolution in decision-making is underscored by the insights presented in New Oriental’s “White Paper on Studying Abroad in China 2022”.

The report elucidates the paramount considerations that guide students’ choices regarding their academic pursuits overseas. Foremost among these factors are personal interest, favorable employment prospects, and alignment with one’s educational background. The burgeoning pressures of post-graduation employment have catalyzed a perceptible shift, compelling an increasing number of students to factor in employment prospects when determining their academic path. Consequently, there is a discernible inclination towards opting for majors that boast popularity and robust post-graduation employability.

A nuanced exploration of specific academic subdivisions reveals a pronounced concentration of interest in economics, engineering, and management. Collectively, these fields constitute nearly half of the chosen majors. Concurrently, the allure of artistic disciplines commands the fourth position in terms of popularity. It is noteworthy that international destinations offer an array of distinguished art institutions, spanning diverse domains and cultivating mature industries. This underscores the pertinence of nurturing art-related disciplines.

Furthermore, a significant development emerges when scrutinizing the longitudinal trends. Over the past six years, a notable transition has transpired: the proportion of students pursuing languages and arts has eclipsed that of those opting for scientific domains, a phenomenon observed for the first time among those intending to pursue studies abroad.

Chinese Education Market

Popular application areas by country

Based on the comprehensive insights presented in the “Blue Book Report on the Development of Overseas Study in China (2022),” a collaborative effort between the Center for China and Globalization and the Bank of China, discernible trends have emerged in terms of the favored fields of study among Chinese students in select countries.

Within the academic landscapes of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Australia, a pronounced predilection for disciplines falling under the purview of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), business, and social sciences has become increasingly apparent in recent years.

Upon closer examination of specific destinations, a distinctive pattern emerges. In the United Kingdom, the domains of business and management, along with finance and accounting, occupy the vanguard of popularity among Chinese students. A particularly noteworthy facet is the significant prominence accorded to business accounting, a major that commands a substantial share of the academic preferences.

Conversely, across the Atlantic in the United States, mathematics and computer science reign supreme, capturing the preference of an impressive 22.2% of Chinese students pursuing studies abroad.

Venturing southward to Australia and Canada, economics and management emerge as disciplines of substantial acclaim. The collective proportion of Chinese students electing to embark upon these academic trajectories in these two countries surpasses an impressive 60%.

Moving towards Germany, a striking 41% of Chinese students opt for engineering as their major of choice, attesting to the nation’s renown in this particular sphere.

Finally, in the context of France, a predilection for literature and linguistics is pronounced, occupying the preferred choice of 39.6% of Chinese students studying in the country.

This comprehensive overview underscores the discerning considerations and academic pursuits of Chinese students as they embark on educational journeys across diverse international destinations.

In conclusion, for educational institutions and businesses seeking to attract Chinese students, a profound comprehension of the evolving trends and preferences within this dynamic demographic is of paramount significance.