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Mature students pursue their dreams abroad

By YU RAN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-14 07:45
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Students stroll on the campus at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, after graduating in May.[Photo/Agencies]

Overseas studies broaden horizons, help in career development

A rising number of mature Chinese students are choosing to pursue education overseas to broaden their career prospects.

They include Li Yanqiu, 47, who decided to leave her job in print media, which she held for 18 years, to study in the United Kingdom six years ago. She has no regrets about making this move.

Li, who graduated from the Journalism Department at Fudan University in Shanghai, pursued a master's in ethnographic documentary film at University College London in 2017. She graduated with distinction, fulfilling her long-held ambition of studying abroad.

Just a few months after taking the International English Language Testing System exam and applying to several schools, Li received an acceptance letter from the London college.

"I had been thinking about studying abroad for a long time. I considered this idea during my college years, but studying overseas wasn't commonplace at the time," she said.

"I also wanted to go abroad while working to experience the education system, but I put this on hold due to family reasons. However, my desire for change was always there."

Li opted to study abroad when her son was ready to enter high school, as she believed that both of them needed some space to pursue their respective goals.

In May, the 2023 China Study Abroad White Paper released by Chinese education company New Oriental Education & Technology Group said research data during the past five years showed that more individuals who are 25 or older are pursuing postgraduate studies overseas.

With increasing pressures in domestic education, these students and working professionals are looking to study abroad to further their education, enhance their employability, and broaden their career prospects.

Zhang Weiyong, chief expert at the Elite USA J1 Visa Program for Study Visits, said: "I clearly sense this trend of mature students studying abroad. Some seek to enhance their international perspective, explore overseas markets and establish international networks, some hope to find opportunities to start a new life, while others facing career stagnation seek to 'refresh' themselves abroad."

With the economic development and social progress achieved by China, young and middle-aged individuals, while dedicating themselves to their careers, will increasingly look toward the global stage, Zhang said, adding that this is inevitable in career development, and reflects people's ambitions amid nation's increased prosperity and expansion.

Before going abroad, Li did not have a clear goal, but she hoped to achieve a distinction for her academic work.

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