More students back from abroad
Updated: 2013-11-05 00:39
By YANG WANLI (China Daily)
Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are top three choices
The number of Chinese students returning from overseas is set to exceed those going abroad within the next five years, a survey released on Monday shows.
The report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Chinese talent returning home said the number coming back has continued to increase since 2004.
By 2018, the balance is likely to tilt in favor of the returnees.
Last year, about 2.6 million Chinese went overseas for education, training or on exchange programs, compared with more than 1 million who returned from abroad.
The most popular cities where those returning chose to stay were Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
To attract more talent from abroad, many cities have offered favorable policies on housing, children's education and spouses' jobs.
The report says more than 60 percent of those returning found jobs within six months. Some 25 percent were hired by foreign companies and their branches in China, with the finance sector being the biggest attraction.
"The younger generation feels comfortable living in China after studying overseas, because it would be very difficult for them to merge into mainstream society in a foreign country," said Xia Yingqi, 64, chief adviser at the Beijing Overseas Chinese Talent Center.
Xia was among the first batch of students sent overseas by the government. He studied in Canada from 1978 to 1987, gaining a doctorate degree in engineering. He said there were only 5,000 Chinese students in Canada then, compared with at least 500,000 now.
Liu Yuxuan, 28, a PhD candidate at a university in the Netherlands studying the pathogenesis of hematological cancer, said, "It feels so good to be back home." She wants to return to Beijing after graduating in December.
She said students returning from overseas enjoy many preferential government policies in China, and she, as a medical researcher, can make the best use of her knowledge at home.
But despite the increasing number of students returning from overseas, the cream of them — those with doctorate degrees in science or engineering — are still unwilling to come back.
Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that from 1990 to 1999 nearly 90 percent of overseas Chinese students falling into this category chose to stay abroad. The situation shows no sign of changing.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' report said more than half of the Chinese who returned from overseas in 2012 were undergraduates.
They studied mostly in Britain, where the requirements for overseas graduates who want to stay are stricter than in many other countries, including the United States.
Rui Zi, 30, whose husband gained a doctorate degree in engineering in the US, said: "I think I will stay in the United States for at least the next decade. I enjoy the free social benefits and better public services. At least we have fresh air here and not so many people."
Xia said that most of his younger friends who went overseas as the country's top students are staying aboard.
His 34-year-old son gained a master's degree in Britain. "But he loves Beijing. I persuaded him to stay in the UK, but then he insisted on coming back because he could not stand the sense of loneliness in a foreign country."
Li Wei, a professor at Arizona State University, said more Chinese parents want to send their children to study in the United States for a bachelor's degree. She said the number of Chinese students studying for such degrees in the US increased from 8,000 in 2000 to 30,000 in 2010.
"The number of those seeking postgraduate studies is growing slowly," she said.
Britain, the US and Australia are the top three destinations for Chinese students going abroad, the academy's report said.