More students opting to study in China despite post-graduation visa rules

by Ray Clancy on January 15, 2016

More students are opting to study in China, but those who want to stay on after graduating can find it difficult if they want work because of visa difficulties.

But it is hoped that restrictions and rules may change in the short term that can enable international graduates to benefit even further from their experience in China.

StudentIt would be hugely beneficial, according to Matt McFetridge, an American who studied for a two-year master’s course in international relations at Tsinghua, one of China’s most prestigious universities.

Indeed, since the United States and China began an educational exchange programme 36 years ago there has been an increasing number of American students choosing to study in the country.

Figures show that the number of American students has increased from 8,480 in 2004 to 24,203 in 2014, according to China’s Ministry of Education. They became the second biggest group of international students in 2008, with South Korea the largest.

Another is Eric Schafer who moved to Beijing from California two years after getting a bachelor’s degree in political science from Berkeley University. He pointed out that at first language is the biggest barrier.

At first he had difficulty just going shopping or to the bank, but an intensive Chinese language programme helped and he now believes that studying in China was the best decision he has made, although he added that it can be challenging at times.

According to Frank Hawke, one of the first of eight American students to study in China in 1979, believes that any cultural differences are really only superficial and students soon realise that they have a lot in common.

According to the 2014 Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, China remains the fifth largest host destination for American students following the UK, Italy, Spain and France.

The increase in students shows China’s international influence and market potential is recognised by students, according to the Centre for China and Globalization.

More students from both countries are expected to study as part of the largest exchange programme ever created between two governments. It will mean 10,000 Chinese students sponsored to study in the US for doctoral degrees and 10,000 American students studying in China.

It can be hard finding a job in China after graduation because of visa and employment restrictions, but both countries are looking at introducing internships and easing the work rules.

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