Chinese students flee US amid China trade war

Chinese students flee US amid China trade war

Chinese students were reportedly on the lookout for alternative study destinations other than the United States amid an ongoing trade spat between Washington DC and Beijing, threatening an important revenue source for American universities.

Data from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed that in March this year, the number of Chinese students—which accounted for nearly a third of foreign students in the US—significantly dropped by 2 percent for the first time in 10 years.

This came as fears of safety, visa delays, and concerns over being shut of research projects, were said to be scaring Chinese students.

Chinese students opt for UK, Australia and Canada instead

A survey by New Oriental China’s biggest private education provider said that countries such as Britain, Australia, and Canada were the largest beneficiaries of students flocking from US.

Japan and Korea—which are elite Chinese nationals’ traditional study destinations—as well as parts of Europe and Germany and the Scandinavian countries with strong engineering programmes, also found an uptick in students’ applications.

In the middle of 2018, US President Donald Trump slashed the visa duration of Chinese students in the science and technology fields to one year from five previously.

High School student Melissa Zhang, 17, was said to have abandoned plans to go to US and instead taken German lessons in hopes that she could enter a robotics programme in Dresden.

“I’ve already wasted a year preparing for my SATs,” the 17-year-old said, referring to the standardised test needed to enter a US university.

“But what’s the point in going to the US if I might be shut out of a research lab, just because I am Chinese,” she added.

Chinese students feel stigmatised

Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Rafael Reif said in an open letter that students and faculty felt “unfairly scrutinised, stigmatised and on edge—because of their Chinese ethnicity alone”.

The State Department, meanwhile, said that the increased scrutiny was prompted by a rising number of students who were co-opted by foreign intelligence while in the United States.

According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Chinese students accounted for $13 billion to the US economy last year, comprised of tuition fees and living expenses.

Photo: yu wei

Angelica is a reporter for Global Education Times with a focus on the ‘business of education’, and on Asia-Pacific and South American education affairs. An experienced journalist, Angelica also writes for the oldest English newspaper in the Philippines, The Manila Times, as the publication’s business correspondent.
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