Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese students are going in their thousands to British universities. As the trade warbetween Washington and Beijing rages on, those who want to study abroad are increasingly avoiding the United Statesand opting instead for the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia.
Due to the uncertainties associated with Brexit, the future of higher education funding and British population trends, British universities are increasingly dependent upon students from outside the European Union (EU). China is their main reservoir of students.
Today, Chinese university students in the UK are more numerous than all European undergraduate students put together. Short of funds, local universities are taking advantage of the higher tuition fees they charge non-EU students.
The number has almost tripled in the past decade and continues to grow by more than 10 per cent every year. Chinese students now represent the second nationality after the British and, in some of the universities, constitute 12.5 per cent of all students.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), there were 43,530 Chinese in the United Kingdom 12 years ago. A decade later, the total rose to 106,530, 127,330 if those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are included.
In the 2017-2018 academic year, 60,460 students enrolled in graduate studies and 46,070 in undergraduate studies. The Chinese continue to be one of the fastest growing groups among foreign students.
The 2019 Chinese Student Overseas Study Survey Report prepared by the Chinese education consultancy EIC Educationshows that 20.14 per cent of respondents opted for the United Kingdom as their first choice of study destination, ahead of the United States at 17.05 per cent.
Other popular choices included Canada and Australia among English-speaking nations, as well as Germany and France in Europe, and Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea in Asia.
Still, studying in the US is seen by Chinese students as the best way to open doors to top jobs at home or abroad.
Chinese nationals make up one third of the 1.1 million international students in the US, according to New York-based Institute of International Education.
The trade war though is making it more difficult for Chinese students to get a visa for the United States.
Easy Transfer, a Beijing-based money-transfer firm, saw its total transaction volume reach US$ 776 million in 2018 and expects US$ 1 billion this year.