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From the desk of Sufei Li, Senior Manager China, Sannam S4

When it comes to China, it looks like we’re headed into the unknown.

As we all are aware, there have been big shifts in policies in China, focusing on the reform of K-12 and higher education. Obviously, the most talked-about policy is the one regarding the complete ban of private tutoring. Prep companies are hugely impacted as well as EdTech and start-up businesses. Instead of being a new education policy, it’s being regarded as part of a national policy that goes beyond simple education.

Earlier this summer, China banned the one-child family policy and raised the cap to allow married Chinese couples to have up to three children. This appears to be a result of a government priority being put on education equality with an aim to reduce the costs of education for families in China. In fact, the official Xinhua news agency said that the policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an aging population.”

What next? 

In the past few decades, education and educational investment have become a heavy financial burden even for those with only one child in the family, much less those with two or three. 

With the banning of private tutoring, the government has provided very detailed guidelines – for example, how many hours there should be of classroom learning, how many hours of class activities, and after school activities and academic assistance.  The goal of the guidelines is to reduce the financial weight on families.

You can now see how this education reform will encourage families to have two or three children. So, it will no longer be only the elite who get private education tutoring with quality teaching resources flowing their way.

So, will these be good or bad, as far as we all are concerned?

For many who are not “in the know” about China, these moves might feel quite sudden and overwhelming. In the turbulence of private tutoring and edtech businesses, at least for the short term, there are lots of people who may lose their jobs, especially those at high tech and private education companies. To a degree, we really can’t predict what will happen in the long run and what more will come out of the central government’s strategic planning. 

However, the Chinese government is still maintaining its open door policy and encouraging students to study abroad as well as welcoming foreign students to study in China. For the latter, the government has allocated scholarships for international students.

Bottom line, China needs more young people to remain competitive. So their priority will be creating an environment that can nurture them. A centrally-controlled government has the influence and initiative to make that happen. 

So, how do we interpret those policy changes in China? What kind of impact will they have on international higher education institutions that rely heavily on Chinese students and services to Chinese students? How foreign institutions should react and respond to these changes is a big question, not only during the pandemic but also after it ends.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to think about what Chinese students and their families are thinking, now faced with a new reality. 

Undoubtedly, there are many uncertainties ahead. But we at Sannam S4 are “in the know,” and have the knowledge and tools to guide you through the unknown.  

Student Mobility: Impactful stories and insights from around the world

In early 2021, China’s Social Science Academic Press published the ‘Annual Report on Chinese Students Studying Abroad 2020-2021’, which was compiled using research from the Institute of Development Studies from the South-West University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) and the Center for China and Globalisation (CCG). The Social Science Academic Press has published seven of these reports since 2012.

The reports are designed to present the latest information and trends related to students studying abroad from China, as well as from other countries. The latest report for 2020-2021 presents this information within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and also contains relevant policy recommendations. We’ve outlined some of the key points from the report below. 

Diversified destinations for outbound study

Following the latest statistics provided by the Institute of International Education (IIE) within their ‘The Open Doors Report 2020’, it has been determined that the number of international students who received tertiary education in the United States throughout the academic year 2020-2021 decreased by 1.8% in comparison to 2018-2019. The decreased figure now stands at 1,075,496 and is the first time it has dropped since the financial crisis of 2008. The second-largest destination for studying abroad is the UK, with China continuing to have the third-largest destination for students studying abroad.

PhD destination declines in the US

Since 2016-2017, the number of international students choosing to pursue a PhD in the United States has decreased significantly to 26%. This is a consistent year-on-year drop of 14 percentage points. This significant decrease may be connected to the restrictive administration policies of the Trump presidency, which made it harder for international students to pursue studies in the US, whether directly or indirectly. The demand for studying internationally still remained high, however, with the decline in students pursuing a PhD in the US seemingly creating new opportunities for other countries.

The impact of COVID-19

The report shows that the income of many universities and colleges across the United States also dropped as a direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the Spring semester of 2020, which was the early stages of the pandemic, the income of universities and colleges across the United States dropped by $8 billion. The US is not the only place to lose this kind of income, as it is estimated by officials that the UK tertiary education sector will lose £19 billion as a direct impact of COVID-19 – this figure equates to ¥173.3 billion.

Robust demand for outbound study by Chinese students

Despite the income of colleges and universities being negatively impacted by COVID-19, the global pandemic has not affected student demand for studying abroad.

Policy recommendations

As well as highlighting the current and relevant trends about studying abroad, the report provided policy recommendations in the following areas: study abroad destinations, top-level designs, Sino-foreign cooperation in running schools, Chinese international schools, and the protection of the rights of overseas students and those returning to China, as well as their interests.

For more information about higher education via Sannam S4, or if you wish to contact our China Education Industry expert Sufei Li, visit her today.

Policy & Programmes: what’s changing and things to keep an eye on

As China grows, it continues to cooperate and collaborate with countries from around the world, for the mutual benefit of all involved. Read on to see some of the work being done in the education sector, and what it might mean going forwards.

In recent years, China has been growing to take a major role on the world stage. Thanks to decades of economic development, China is focusing on the world of international relations and assisting less able countries in developing their educational systems. Read on to find out about how the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party resulted in the further development of education in China and abroad, and what it could mean for the future of educational institutions.

What has changed?

Between 2019 and 2020 there was a very distinctive shift in the way that China extended their influence in the education sector. This came firstly through the approval of far more educational institutions. Rising to 40 institutions (double the prior period), the use of Sino-foreign cooperative schools has clearly proven to be a success. After all, it’s clearly proven to be worth expanding the program significantly. 

A similar concept has been applied to universities around the world. As more and more of the world’s top 200 universities (judged by QS Rankings) have been working in tandem with global partners, there is a clear opportunity for China to expand learning opportunities at home and abroad. Just some of the benefits include offering high-end educational resources to students for far more affordable prices and making sure that the benefits of a good education are felt by everyone. 

What degrees are involved?

In the past two years, the emphasis has shifted from degrees that have relatively little tangible value, such as Management and Economics, towards subjects that are seen to have more worth in the real world. These include the sciences, Engineering, Agriculture, and importantly in the modern world, Computer Science. By taking a step into the world of big data and artificial intelligence, China is positioning itself well for the next industrial revolution. 

Remote campuses

In addition to funding projects outside of China, the potential of education within China has proven itself to be incredibly attractive to established institutions. Major universities such as Leicester International College, the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Lancaster University have all opened campuses in China in recent years, looking to educate the best and brightest in the region. 

The willingness of external bodies to get involved is one of the most telling signs of the success of Sino-foreign cooperative education institutions. A world full of globalisation needs multinational solutions, and China is aiming to be one of the first countries to make its mark by truly engaging with the world stage. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Sino-foreign cooperative projects, get in touch with Sufei Li of Sannam. She is an expert in the world of education and can answer any questions you might have about the long term goals and short term successes of the project.

News

Those studying abroad in China are frustrated by a lack of updates to their future education. The digital alternatives offered by Chinese universities are not being particularly well-received.

China is typically a hub for international learning – in a normal year, 500,000 students travel to China for their education. However, these same students have been effectively left behind by the country’s current response to the COVID crisis – and there is every chance that this could potentially dethrone China’s place in terms of international education.

The situation

As of writing, there is still uncertainty as to when international students will be allowed to enter or return to China, as the borders are currently only open for certain groups – primarily workers. We can observe similar events in Australia where anger is mounting over the government still not allowing non-Australian citizens to return for classes.

This has been a flashpoint of frustration for many students in both countries, though those stuck outside of China are experiencing significant mental health difficulties as a result. This is compounded by the silence of the Chinese government, which seems set to begin the 2021 academic year without international students.

This is exacerbated by the fact that many international students in China are from India or Pakistan. Both countries have only vaccinated around 10% of their respective populations. Combined with fluctuating case rates recently, some students may have been depending on China to help them feel safer.

Why China succeeds

There are multiple factors behind China’s prominence in international education – and which make the situation far more complicated than in Australia. First and foremost, China gives many international scholarships that provide a vital lifeline for students usually unable to afford to go overseas for learning. This makes the country both attractive and relatively accessible for many.

China is also a world leader in research, meaning they typically give additional funding to their PhD students – another way in which the nation’s commitment to education can successfully attract students worldwide. We would also be remiss to downplay the country’s status as a hub of culture, beauty and tourism (at least in a normal year), as this can be a surprisingly significant factor when students choose to go abroad.

The online alternative

There is every chance that this success might be at risk, with Angela Lehmann of the Lygon Group describing this as a reputational disaster for China. Students have derided the digital alternatives that have been made available to make up for their lost learning.

Australia has been using education technology to bolster its learning for many years, but China’s integration has been much more recent – and subject to government crackdowns by President Xi. Students have been sharply critical of how they have been, for example, expected to learn how to conduct surgery using an online video. 

Regardless of when China allows international students back into the country, their handling of this situation could reverberate for years to come. If you would like to learn more about the education industry in China, then please contact Sannam’s in-house expert, Sufei Li.

The number of Chinese students in the UK has been steadily growing and has overtaken the amount of EU students in the country. What are the push and pull factors behind this?

As we have discussed before, China is known for hosting many international students – although this aspect of its reputation may be under threat due to its harsh pandemic restrictions. However, China also sends a lot of students abroad – over 216,000 of which study in the United Kingdom, more than all EU students in the nation. There are several key reasons for this growth, as well as for the fact that this same growth cannot be observed in countries such as the United States.

American Visa Restrictions

Immigration of all kinds, even for just a few years of education, is a mixture of push and pull factors; a migrant can be ‘pushed’ away from one country just as easily as they can be pulled to another. Any student from China wishing to study in the West will likely see the United States and the United Kingdom as two main candidates.

However, the United States enacted particularly harsh visa restrictions on Chinese entrants. These restrictions prevented Chinese Communist Party members from staying for more than a month, which critics described as showing a Cold War mentality. Some Chinese students in technology fields have also been suspected of being Communist spies. This pushes Chinese students away from the United States and towards the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom leaving the European Union

It is impossible to deny the effect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union – this caused a practical and reputational shift. EU students had tuition fees increased across almost the whole country, and fewer students could afford them. However, we can observe that Northern Ireland did not experience a significant drop in applicants – because they are still charging the previous fees.

The fee increase might make up for the drop in students for the rest of the United Kingdom, but the number of applicants from the EU will be permanently reduced. Being outside of the EU, China saw no such increase from this event – it is comparatively no more expensive for them to study in the UK.

COVID Caution

For many months, it appeared the United Kingdom managed to stamp out most COVID cases. Though cases are now rising once again, there are far fewer deaths than at previous stages of the pandemic – and almost the entirety of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

China has had extremely low case rates throughout the pandemic, effectively containing it in March of 2020. It may be that Chinese students gravitate towards significantly vaccinated countries after 18 months of avoiding significant case increases. The UK’s robust online learning during the outbreak may also be a significant factor in this regard.

Until America reverses its restrictions on Chinese entrants (and contains the coronavirus), we can expect this UK-based growth to continue. However, this growth would appear inflated without taking Brexit into account as this massively reduced the intake of EU students. If you would like to learn more about China’s education sector, particularly in the context of studying abroad, then Sannam’s own expert Sufei Li is happy to help.

The number of Chinese students in the UK has been steadily growing and has overtaken the amount of EU students in the country. What are the push and pull factors behind this?

As we have discussed before, China is known for hosting many international students – although this aspect of its reputation may be under threat due to its harsh pandemic restrictions. However, China also sends a lot of students abroad – over 216,000 of which study in the United Kingdom, more than all EU students in the nation. There are several key reasons for this growth, as well as for the fact that this same growth cannot be observed in countries such as the United States.

American Visa Restrictions

Immigration of all kinds, even for just a few years of education, is a mixture of push and pull factors; a migrant can be ‘pushed’ away from one country just as easily as they can be pulled to another. Any student from China wishing to study in the West will likely see the United States and the United Kingdom as two main candidates.

However, the United States enacted particularly harsh visa restrictions on Chinese entrants. These restrictions prevented Chinese Communist Party members from staying for more than a month, which critics described as showing a Cold War mentality. Some Chinese students in technology fields have also been suspected of being Communist spies. This pushes Chinese students away from the United States and towards the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom leaving the European Union

It is impossible to deny the effect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union – this caused a practical and reputational shift. EU students had tuition fees increased across almost the whole country, and fewer students could afford them. However, we can observe that Northern Ireland did not experience a significant drop in applicants – because they are still charging the previous fees.

The fee increase might make up for the drop in students for the rest of the United Kingdom, but the number of applicants from the EU will be permanently reduced. Being outside of the EU, China saw no such increase from this event – it is comparatively no more expensive for them to study in the UK.

COVID Caution

For many months, it appeared the United Kingdom managed to stamp out most COVID cases. Though cases are now rising once again, there are far fewer deaths than at previous stages of the pandemic – and almost the entirety of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

China has had extremely low case rates throughout the pandemic, effectively containing it in March of 2020. It may be that Chinese students gravitate towards significantly vaccinated countries after 18 months of avoiding significant case increases. The UK’s robust online learning during the outbreak may also be a significant factor in this regard.

Until America reverses its restrictions on Chinese entrants (and contains the coronavirus), we can expect this UK-based growth to continue. However, this growth would appear inflated without taking Brexit into account as this massively reduced the intake of EU students. If you would like to learn more about China’s education sector, particularly in the context of studying abroad, then Sannam’s own expert Sufei Li is happy to help.

Modern urban life in China is growing increasingly stressful for young adults living there, which has caused a rise in a whole new way of thinking – the lying flat philosophy. Over the past few weeks, an online hashtag has caused quite a stir in the Chinese urban community. #Should-young-people-promote-lying-flat-philosophy has been viewed, shared, liked and spread by over 2 million viewers online, along with another term earlier in January – ‘involution’ or ‘neijuan’ in Chinese. In essence, this hashtag is encapsulating a revolt against the urban rat race with the new lying flat philosophy.

China has long been enamoured with the idea of a Chinese dream that sees individuals striving for homeownership, getting married and starting a family. The young adults of modern China seem to be growing disillusioned with this dream and are looking to replace it with the lying flat philosophy. In place of a new car, luxurious home or large family, the young adults of China are now striving for a quiet life that takes them away from the 9 to 5 humdrum.

Where did the lying flat philosophy start?

Although it mirrors a lot of the hippy and new wave movements of the West, the lying flat philosophy first appeared online in 2019 with the term, ‘doctors lie flat’, which revolved around new doctors in China growing frustrated with their career prospects in the big cities of China. 

Doctors were tired of being forced to jump through hoops to obtain a coveted position in one of the big hospitals in Beijing or Shanghai. Instead, they looked to smaller cities with less demanding hours and metrics to obtain a better overall quality of life.

This notion of choosing the easier path in life has resonated with the young adults that have just started their careers, which is why buzzwords like involution have gained so much traction. 

Conflicting views of lying flat

Many young adults in China are pushing back against the stresses of modern living and are looking to carve out their own paths in life. This has garnered a lot of praise from online communities who feel that that the lying flat philosophy is on to something. Discussions on social media platform Weibo came to the conclusion that the philosophy was more akin to an academic discipline, referencing the works of Franz Kafka and the Chinese documentary ‘Press Pause, Lie Down’.

Other commenters were less favourable of the idea, worrying that this thought experiment could cause great harm to modern society and cause people to fail in life. One blogger wrote, ‘Don’t lie flat. First, get some experience. I never see ‘success study’ written about [as] each person has their own pressures and anxieties.’

The reason why this new philosophy has garnered so much attention is not yet clear. Are the young adults of China overworked and underappreciated? Or are there a handful of vocal, jaded individuals looking to change how we view society? Either way, it has caused a lot of people to assess their work-life balance in China as well as brought into question the purpose of working for many individuals.

If you are interested in learning more about the current climate in China, speak with our China Education industry expert at Sannam S4, Sufei Li, today.

The number of Chinese students in the UK has been steadily growing and has overtaken the amount of EU students in the country. What are the push and pull factors behind this?

As we have discussed before, China is known for hosting many international students – although this aspect of its reputation may be under threat due to its harsh pandemic restrictions. However, China also sends a lot of students abroad – over 216,000 of which study in the United Kingdom, more than all EU students in the nation. There are several key reasons for this growth, as well as for the fact that this same growth cannot be observed in countries such as the United States.

American Visa Restrictions

Immigration of all kinds, even for just a few years of education, is a mixture of push and pull factors; a migrant can be ‘pushed’ away from one country just as easily as they can be pulled to another. Any student from China wishing to study in the West will likely see the United States and the United Kingdom as two main candidates.

However, the United States enacted particularly harsh visa restrictions on Chinese entrants. These restrictions prevented Chinese Communist Party members from staying for more than a month, which critics described as showing a Cold War mentality. Some Chinese students in technology fields have also been suspected of being Communist spies. This pushes Chinese students away from the United States and towards the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom leaving the European Union

It is impossible to deny the effect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union – this caused a practical and reputational shift. EU students had tuition fees increased across almost the whole country, and fewer students could afford them. However, we can observe that Northern Ireland did not experience a significant drop in applicants – because they are still charging the previous fees.

The fee increase might make up for the drop in students for the rest of the United Kingdom, but the number of applicants from the EU will be permanently reduced. Being outside of the EU, China saw no such increase from this event – it is comparatively no more expensive for them to study in the UK.

COVID Caution

For many months, it appeared the United Kingdom managed to stamp out most COVID cases. Though cases are now rising once again, there are far fewer deaths than at previous stages of the pandemic – and almost the entirety of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

China has had extremely low case rates throughout the pandemic, effectively containing it in March of 2020. It may be that Chinese students gravitate towards significantly vaccinated countries after 18 months of avoiding significant case increases. The UK’s robust online learning during the outbreak may also be a significant factor in this regard.

Until America reverses its restrictions on Chinese entrants (and contains the coronavirus), we can expect this UK-based growth to continue. However, this growth would appear inflated without taking Brexit into account as this massively reduced the intake of EU students. If you would like to learn more about China’s education sector, particularly in the context of studying abroad, then Sannam’s own expert Sufei Li is happy to help.

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