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Record numbers of Chinese study abroad

A record 340,000 Chinese students studied at universities abroad last year according to China’s ministry of education. Figures show a rise of 55,000 students on 2010, a 20% climb. However, when viewed against 2007 figures, this is up by almost 200,000 – well over 100%.

Australia has seen a decline due to the high dollar and ripples from 2009 visa curbs

The countries receiving the biggest share of these students have remained the same, with some fairing better than others. The US enrolled a total 157,558 students – up from 127,822, a change of 23.3% (and up from the 21.8% rise the previous year). The UK also climbed, from 56,990 in 2009/10 to 67,325 last year.

Australia  has seen a decline due to the high dollar and ripples from 2009 visa curbs. There were 91,918 commencements in 2010 but inflow is predicted to fall 15% this year. The total number of new student visas granted to Chinese nationals also fell 8.9% to 22,810 this December.

Chris Madden, pro vice-chancellor (international) of Griffith University, Queensland, said last week: “Australia is now an expensive destination for international students. It is unlikely that the chief cause of that – the high Australian dollar – will drop below parity in the next few years, as investors are clearly more inclined to invest in the Australian dollar, rather than the euro and US dollar.”

However, a 2011 Deloitte Access Economics report commissioned by Universities Australia has suggested that, while currency issues have had impact, visa rules are primarily to blame.

Patrick Pantano, assistant director communications at Universities Australia, said: “The new visa rules recently announced by the government should help to address this, but the strength of the Australian dollar is likely to continue to impact on Australia’s competitiveness as a study destination.”

The Chinese education ministry also reported that the number of Chinese returning to China after their studies grew 38% last year to reach 186,000 students. This is likely due to the financial crisis in the US and Europe, and the ongoing growth of the Chinese economy.

The ministry calculates that 2.2 million Chinese have taken degrees overseas since the government adopted its ‘open door policy’ in 1978.

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