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White paper: Salary not only motive for overseas study

By Jiang Wei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-05-13 17:42
A visitor consults at the UK counter at China Education Expo in Beijing in October 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The phenomenon that the salary of overseas returnees may not cover their study expenditures has stirred up debate on whether it's worth it to study overseas. Now, a white paper on the topic has provided more nuance.

Nearly 70 percent of those with overseas learning experience said the value of overseas study should not be evaluated only by earnings, as the enrichment it brings to their lives is even more important. This comes per the 2019 White Paper on Overseas Study published by New Oriental Education and Technology Group, the largest provider of private educational services in China.

Data from the Ministry of Education shows 662,100 people went overseas for study in 2018, up 8.83 percent year-on-year.

As the number of students applying for overseas study grows, this group has been getting more and more attention. New Oriental has published white papers on overseas study since 2015, trying to depict the overseas students group and the market.

"The perception on the value of learning overseas by students has changed as we compared the data year after year," said Li Jun, a person on the New Oriental overseas study team. More and more people consider overseas study a way to self-actualize, Li said.

Wan Yu, a sophomore at China Agricultural University, is working on getting admitted to an exchange program in the US. "I'd like to experience the teaching style and academic atmosphere there, and more importantly broaden my vision," Wan said.

According to the white paper, the percentage of people valuing self-improvement has grown in the last three years. More than half of students want to broaden their vision, enrich their life experience and acquire cutting-edge knowledge by going overseas. The percentage of students who say obtaining a degree is their top priority is falling.

At the same time, the possibility of immigrating to other countries after studying there weakens as domestic economy grows. More students consider overseas study an educational experience.

The white paper shows the percentage of students who come back to China as soon as they graduate has increased over the past five years. "One reason is the job market in foreign countries is nearly full, another is that the purpose of some students’ study abroad is to increase their competitiveness at home," Li said.

Overseas returnees increased by 38,500 or 8 percent in 2018 year-on-year, according to data from the Ministry of Education.

The white paper also shows 89 percent of employers acknowledge the value of overseas study. Professional skills and creativity are two things employers value most in overseas returnees.

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