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The fine art of attraction

By Julia Davis | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-16 07:17

The fine art of attraction

A student practices painting in an art class in Huanggu district in Shenyang, Liaoning province. [Photo by Wang Huan/provided to China Daily]

Autumn is around the corner and students are gearing up to start university across the country, but many will be looking further afield-heading for the United States for fine arts courses that are becoming more competitive at home.

A rising number of Chinese students are using the opportunity of studying overseas to major in various fine arts, ranging from film and dance to painting and design. It's a marked departure from the usual preference for the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

"We've historically seen that many Chinese students are very reputation and rankings focused when selecting where they want to study. And the US is home to more than one-third of the top 50 art and design schools in the world," says Jessica Brandt, director of resource management at educational trends-research company World Education Services.

A 2016 study by the company found that the number of Chinese students enrolled in fine and applied arts programs in the US has more than tripled-growing much faster compared to leading subjects, such as engineering, business and management, math and computer science.

The intense competition for spots in leading art and design programs in China fuels the trend. The Beijing Film Academy, one of the country's top universities for fine arts, received nearly 25,000 applications in 2015. Of those, 498 were accepted. That's less than 2 percent.

Acceptance rates at universities around the country are similarly low. Nearly 900,000 applicants taking the national college entrance exam for fine arts in China every year. This leaves a huge number of students unable to pursue their interests.

That means many students, who want a top art education-even if they do not get into China's elite universities-will likely continue to consider leading universities in places like the US.

That, coupled with a growing job market in China that is seeing more professional opportunities in the art sector, makes majoring in fine arts abroad a solid choice for many Chinese students.

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