Chinese student's quest for UK's post-education system

Updated: 2015-10-21 13:46

By Ruan Fan(

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Chinese student's quest for UK's post-education system

The studying in England consultant desk at an overseas educational consultancy services fair held in Shanghai, Oct 31, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Da Xiang, a Chinese graduate from Southampton University in the UK applied for an overseas study two years ago with the help of an agency. She returned to China upon graduation and became a consultant in one of the many agencies in her hometown Changsha, provincial capital of Central China's Hunan province.

"When I was applying to study overseas two years ago, there were less than five agencies in Changsha, but now, there's more than a dozen," Da said.

"It showed that the market of studying overseas is expanding, at a fast pace."

According to Da, education is an investment that can't go unrewarded, and it is usually a top choice for families that can't afford a house in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai.

"Half a million yuan (about $78,000) is barely enough to buy a room in Beijing, but you could send your kid to study one or two years in countries with the best education. It's a bargain."

The figures seem to support Da's theory.

As reported by the Daily Mail, the number of Chinese students in UK's graduate schools saw a sharp rise. In 2008, 28,000 Chinese students studied in the UK. In 2014, the number nearly tripled to 75,000. The British Council in China released a report this year showing that by the end of 2014, Chinese students have become the top source of international students studying in UK's colleges and universities.

Statistics show that among the 500,000 international students who enrolled in a UK post-education program, about 15 percent of them come from China, and that one in every seven international students studying in the UK is Chinese.

This is not a coincidence, as Da observed. "Chinese people are getting rich, and the middle class is growing. More middle class families are in second-tier cities like Changsha, they are having the idea of sparing their savings to invest in their children," Da said.

"The UK stands out among many other choices, especially for graduate studies. In the US, they have a two-year graduate degree system. But in the UK, you can get your graduates degree in one-year. It not only saves you time, but it saves you money."

These are not the only factors that help Chinese students choose the UK over the US. To Gao Tianpei, a public institution staff who studied in the UK for his undergraduate and graduate degree, "the most ideal place to study is the US and the UK, and the US is kind of dangerous with guns being legal and all, so I didn't have much of a choice."

In fact, according to the 2015 White Book of China's Study Abroad issued by the New Oriental School (NOS), Chinese students choose to study in the UK for "the quality of education". The 2014 NOS survey showed that out of 3,000 participants who were asked what drove them most into making the decision to study in the UK, 49 percent of them answered "the quality of education", 39 percent chose "national power", 38 percent chose "national culture", 29 percent for "renowned universities", 29 percent was because "a good major", and 19 percent "safety concern". Contrary to Da's theory, only 12 percent chose "more affordable" before they made their final decision.

The rewards now seem less stunning in the job market as the number of Chinese students returning to China is soaring. Nevertheless, the experience is still valued by those who benefited from spending time in the UK.

Da Xiang recalls her time spent at Southampton University a rewarding investment. "I learned to be a lot more independent, to take care of my own things. I developed critical thinking skills from writing term papers. Most importantly, I learned there's simply no right or wrong opinion, and that really helped me as a person."


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