The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that four out of five affluent Chinese families are shunning Western universities amid strained foreign relations and negative sentiment towards the COVID-19 pandemic:
After being inundated with news about the worsening coronavirus pandemic and rising tensions between China and the West for months, Beijinger Joe Gao… who runs an investment and services start-up… now prefers [his child’s education] be in an Asian country such as Singapore, instead of the United States or Australia, in case China’s relations with the West continue to deteriorate in the coming years…
Gao is not alone in his rationalisation. A large and growing number of Chinese parents are cancelling or at least suspending plans to send their children to study abroad – a strong signal that wealthy and middle-class Chinese families are becoming less interested in sending their kids to study overseas.
About 81 per cent of affluent Chinese families whose children study foreign curriculums and take foreign examinations have decided to postpone plans to send them abroad for undergraduate or graduate studies, according to a survey released last month by Babazhenbang, an education start-up with a database of more than 400 schools preparing Chinese students for overseas high schools and colleges…
Public concern among wealthy and middle-class mainland Chinese increased after the US confirmed last month that it had revoked more than 1,000 visas held by Chinese graduate students and research scholars. Escalating tensions between China and Australia have also fuelled concerns.
The two countries had been among the top overseas schooling destinations for Chinese students until recently.
Chinese student enrolments were already falling before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Annual new enrolments have fallen from a peak of 108,423 in 2018 to 79,383 as at August 2020:
Total Chinese enrolments has also fallen from a peak of 238,541 in 2019 to 216,447 as at August 2020:
Australia’s universities will obviously squeal like stuck pigs over the loss of Chinese students. In addition to being Australia’s biggest international student source, Chinese students also provide 32% of the nation’s education ‘exports’, worth $12.1 billion in 2019:
Regardless, I believe a moderation in Chinese student numbers is in the nation’s interest.
According to Associate Professor Salvatore Babones, 11% of total Australian university enrolments in 2017 were Chinese students. This is concentration of Chinese students dwarfs other advanced nations:
This extreme concentration of Chinese students is reflected by the 13 CCP-run Confucius Institutes operating at Australian universities, in addition to the erosion of English-language and teaching standards, not to mention the rising incidences of contract cheating.
Returning Chinese student numbers to sustainable levels would help safeguard ethical and pedagogical standards.