Also referred to as ‘sea turtles’, the number of Chinese returnees reached 432,500 in 2016, an increase from 409,100 in 2015.
The appeal of the opportunities available on these students’ return is one reason why they decide to return home, according to Shiny Wang, director of college counseling at Tsinghua University High School in Beijing.
“There are more and more career opportunities and formalities for international Chinese to take important roles back home”
“Students believe there are more opportunities for them to find jobs and develop if they come back than staying overseas to do so, which seems more and more difficult,” he told The PIE News.
The competition for job offers and the difficulty obtaining visas also “push them back naturally”, he added.
Jill Tang, founder of talent recruitment company for graduates with foreign degrees, Career X Factor, agreed the attractiveness of bringing their overseas education back home is a pull for many Chinese students.
“There are more and more career opportunities and formalities for international Chinese to take important roles back home and make an impact in their home country by leveraging their overseas education and experience,” she said.
China is the number one country globally in terms of volume of outbound students – 544,500 went abroad for their education last year, an increase from 523,700 the year before.
According the ministry’s figures, around 36% of the students who went abroad in 2016 studied a postgraduate degree, while 31% went for an undergraduate degree.
The vast majority (91%) of Chinese students were self-funded, while around 30,000 went abroad on a government scholarship.
Of those that have been abroad on a government-sponsored scholarship, 98% have returned to China.
Wang added that a lot of students also still struggle with understanding and adapting to the cultural differences they encounter overseas, which may encourage them to come home.
Meanwhile, family “has always been one of the key reasons why they return home”, added Tang.
“I think the proportion coming back home after studying overseas will definitely increase in the near future,” she said. “The economic environment has a high talent on demand for those entrepreneurial, innovative and globally minded Chinese [students].”