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China forecast: employablity drives demand, IBCs set to boom

The boom in demand from Chinese students for a foreign education is expected to continue throughout the next decade, however how and where that interest is met is set to change. According to Education New Zealand, we can expect to see interest rise among younger students, more competition from foreign providers in China, and students opting for providers that can show them clear career paths.

International enrolments reached 328,000 in 2013, as China continues to push towards its target of 500,000 by 2020

China’s inbound market will continue to thrive as Chinese institutions become competitors for prospective students in the region

The regulatory environment will change in 2014, predicts the trends report, as the government aims to normalise the education agency industry. And China’s inbound market will continue to thrive as Chinese institutions become competitors for prospective students in the region.

As businesses develop, the report expects further opportunities to come from less traditional areas outside of Beijing and Shanghai toward Western China.

Based on data  complied from sources including the Ministry of Education, the 2013 Open Doors report and the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)’ International Graduate Admissions Survey, the report shows that demand for postgraduate studies may be weakening, but that the gap between the numbers of applicants and enrolments in the US is closing, suggesting applicants are becoming more discerning.

It suggests that the lag will be met by increasing demand from younger students studying abroad at a younger age, with high school students making up 22.6% of the total number studying abroad in 2011.

The Chinese economy’s double digit growth rates have slowed, leading to an slowdown that has hit graduate job prospects hard. A foreign degree no longer necessarily equates to a good job in China, leading students to prioritise even further institutions which can provide progression into careers in China or abroad.

“Institutions which can show clear career progressions for their students (in New Zealand, in China and in third countries) will be better placed than most,” it notes.

The report also highlights the expansion of international branch campuses in China, which increased by 70% to 17 in 2013 – a trend that looks set to continue as the Ministry of Education encourages the development of 3+1 and 4+0 programmes.

“Chinese education authorities also see these campuses as playing a role in attracting international students to China,” it states, an element that will contiribute to the government’s push toward a target of 500,000 foreign students by 2020.

International enrolments reached 328,000 in 2013, mostly from neighbouring Asian countries, but increasingly Chinese institutions are opening campuses offshore.

Xiamen University opening a five-faculty campus in Malaysia in 2015 and Soochow/Suzhou University and Kunming University of Science and Technology (KUST)’s growing presence in Laos are two of the latest players expanding abroad.

Efforts to improve the domestic educational system seem to be paying off as Chinese universities climbed international rankings, taking 23 of the top 100 spots in the first Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao all placed highly in the OECD’s 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment results.

“Despite the significant gains China has made in recent years, the quality of the overall system remains patchy”

However, the report says that “despite the significant gains China has made in recent years, the quality of the overall system remains patchy”. It adds that “reducing disparities remains a key government focus, particularly in rural areas”.

As the government’s Third Plenum reforms come into effect this year, changes will be seen in the regulatory environment, particularly in relation to joint programmes approved by local and central government authorities.

“We may also see changes as the government seeks to ‘normalise’ the education agent industry,” it says.

It notes that BOSSA (Beijing Overseas Study Service Association) is likely to remain a key player in bolstering quality among agents, with its roll-out of agency inspections due to begin reporting in March.

The trends report is the first in a series focussing on China that Education New Zealand will publish during 2014.

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