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Chinese students likely to return to studying abroad at pre-pandemic levels when COVID-19 crisis ends, says LU survey


The interest of mainland Chinese students in studying abroad will return to pre-pandemic levels when the COVID-19 crisis subsides, even though the desire to study abroad has waned during the pandemic, says a new survey by Lingnan University’s Graduate School.


The survey, a follow up to 2020’s study “Understanding Hong Kong and Mainland university students’ intentions to study overseas after the COVID-19 crisis”, found that 22% of respondents said they would consider studying abroad after the pandemic, compared to 21% who were interested in studying abroad before the pandemic began. But interest in foreign study has dropped to just 8% while the pandemic continues, says the survey.   


The top three reasons respondents gave for studying abroad after the pandemic were that the foreign university would  provide a high-quality learning experience, the foreign university has a strong international reputation, and a degree from a foreign university helps graduates stand out in a fiercely competitive job market. Reasons for studying in the home country during the pandemic included COVID-related health concerns and worries about embargoes on international travel.


Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho, Vice-President of LU and Dean of the Graduate School, who led the study, said that no significant difference was found in students’ choice of overseas study destinations before, during, or after the pandemic. The top five most popular destinations before and after the pandemic were the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, and Germany. During the pandemic, the UK switched positions with the US, and Japan switched positions with Canada. The five least-preferred study destinations are Poland, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, and New Zealand.


East Asian countries and regions including Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, have more opportunities to recruit international students in these challenging times, noted Prof Mok. For example, 16% of respondents selected Hong Kong as a destination for further studies while the pandemic continues, and nearly 14% said that they plan to pursue postgraduate studies in Hong Kong after the pandemic ends.


Prof Mok said that universities’ achievements in research and internationalisation may become a key consideration in recruiting students from mainland China. The encouraging results and performance of Hong Kong universities in the latest international rankings, and the UGC Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020, will attract more postgraduate students to Hong Kong, he said.


The Graduate School survey took place online in June, and received 2,036 valid responses.



Please click HERE for more details about the survey.


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