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19 Oct, 2013

More Chinese students returning home after studying abroad


Shanghai, 2013-10-17 (China Daily) – Facing a stagnant economic situation overseas, more Chinese students are returning home after studying overseas, a trend that looks likely to continue in coming years, a report released this week says.

The report on the situation in 2013, conducted by the Chinese international education service provider EIC, said 22 percent of returned overseas Chinese students thought they would have better prospects finding a good job in their “home country”.

More Chinese students return to find work after studying abroad

A job seeker (right) talks with a potential employer at a job fair in Beijing in September. The fair was aimed at Chinese students and professionals who had returned from overseas. Zhao Bing / for China Daily

The survey interviewed more than 9,100 respondents by questionnaire over five months. More than 5,800 had been overseas students.

“China’s high-speed economic growth in past years has motivated overseas students to come back and to look for job opportunities,” said Liu Yuan, general manager of EIC’s Shanghai branch. “At the same time, it demonstrates the difficulty overseas Chinese students have in finding jobs in other countries.”

About half of the former overseas Chinese students polled cited the uncertain economic situation as the biggest obstacle to finding employment overseas.

“Given the uncertain economic situation and crummy job market, it’s really hard to find a suitable job in the UK,” said Lin Nan, who graduated from Imperial College London and returned to China last year.

“During that time I considered it seriously and decided to seek job opportunities in my home country,” said Lin, who now works for a financial company in Shanghai.

The 2012 survey by EIC showed that more than 70 percent of Chinese students returned home after studying abroad.

This year’s figure is not yet available, but similar reports said more overseas Chinese students are expected to return after study abroad.

In 2012, about 272,900 returned, almost 50 percent more than the previous year, according to a China Social Sciences Press report on 2013 China overseas study development. It predicted a larger tide of returning students in coming years.

Over the past five years, the number of overseas Chinese students returning home reached about 800,000, according to the Ministry of Education.

Professional requirements and language ability were also major factors influencing their employment prospects, the first accounting for 38.9 percent and language skills for 33.6 percent, according to the EIC report.

“Students attach great importance to their decision of a major, but it often lacks systematic, scientific judgment standards, which leads to failure in finding a job abroad when they graduate. In addition, language weaknesses and poor adaptability to overseas environments makes overseas employment even more difficult,” Liu said.

“Many of my schoolmates ran into the same issues after they finished studying abroad. Most eventually chose to come back home.”

According to the report by EIC, the finance and real estate sectors were the most popular with returned overseas Chinese students. They were followed by culture and entertainment, and public management sectors.

The starting salary for returned overseas Chinese students is 100,300 yuan ($16,400) per year, basically equal to that of last year. For those with one to five years of working experience, the starting salary is about 165,000 yuan per year.

First-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou remain the most popular places to start a career, according to the report.

Nearly 30 percent of the polled overseas Chinese students chose Shanghai, the country’s economic center, to start their careers. Next most popular was the political center, Beijing, with about 24 percent. Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou followed.

“There are more opportunities in first-tier cities, but also fiercer competition. Many second- and third-tier cities now also offer favorable policies to attract returned talent, and encourage them to start businesses. That is also a good opportunity,” Liu said.