Economic growth in China is leading to more undergraduates studying abroad:
Chinese set course for foreign universities – Kathrin Hille via Financial Times
Over the past two years, 620,000 Chinese have gone abroad to study, which is more than a quarter of the total number who have studied overseas since the start of China’s reform policies in 1978.
China’s overseas student body has traditionally been dominated by only the very best, who have chosen to study as undergraduates at China’s top universities before doing postgraduate studies abroad. The latest data from the Council of Graduate Schools, released on Tuesday, showed an 18 per cent increase in those applying to US graduate schools in 2012 compared to last year.
But the number of undergraduates heading abroad is rising far more rapidly. Those going to the US soared 43 per cent last year, according to the Institute of International Education.
It’s interesting to project how a growing cadre of Western-educated Chinese will be changed by the experience:
A survey of Chinese alumni from UK universities conducted by Nottingham, Birmingham and Tsinghua universities found that Chinese students rarely find western friends at university, partly because they feel uncomfortable when their European classmates openly talk about sex or invite them to go clubbing. And yet, most of them feel that their few years abroad change their lives forever.
“Chinese live in a monocultural context, and studying abroad helps them first understand that and then discover commonalities with people from other cultures,” says Qing Gu, one of the authors of the alumni study. Her research has shown that many young Chinese become more critical of their own country after returning from university overseas.
So, they may be the start of large-scale social change in China.