Asian universities see strong rise in Chinese students enrolment

Asian universities see strong rise in Chinese students enrolment

A number of universities based in Asian countries, particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, are reporting a significant rise in Chinese students enrolment.

According to a report by SCMP, the rise in interest levels from China is believed to have been caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.

The report states that Chinese higher education students, who would normally set their sights on institutions located in the UK, USA and Australia, are now deciding against studying at these locations, as a result of the coronavirus travel restrictions.

Another believed deterrent for these prospective international students is rising diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Western countries.

China provides the world’s HEIs with the largest single source of international students. The Chinese Ministry of Education reported that, in 2018, more than 662,000 international students were Chinese nationals.

University of Malaya reports 130% increase in postgraduate applications

Asian institutions reporting a rise in student enrolment numbers include Curtin Singapore, which has received 55% more applications than last year.

Malaysia’s University of Malaya has seen its undergraduate application numbers rise by a third, and has witnessed a staggering 130% increase in applications for its postgraduate studies.

However, some experts have questioned the likelihood that this trend will continue into the future, once the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have been lifted.  

While some Chinese students are instead applying to Asian institutions, other individuals have deferred their study applications altogether, due to the fact that they are dissatisfied with the idea of online-based learning. 

UK HEIs predict 61% of Chinese students will withdraw applications as focus shifts to Asian universities

This decline in Chinese student numbers is likely to be a significant cause for concern for British, Australian and American institutions.

British HEIs are predicting huge cancellations in Chinese international students, which represents their largest group of international students, of up to 61%. These international students contribute as much as £4 billion in tuition fees to British HEIs every year.

Likewise, Chinese students account for a third of America’s international students, making them the largest proportion of the HEIs’ overseas students. In Australia, Chinese international students make up more than 10% of the country’s entire student population.

Pic: Hanson Lu

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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