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Chinese students give up preference for US colleges

作者:admin 2020-09-14

Chinese students give up preference for US colleges

Campus Photo: VCG

As the Trump administration continues to destroy China-US relations and foster a xenophobic environment in the US, Chinese students, the largest group of international students in the country, are giving up their preference for American universities.

"Our company lost about 30 percent of student clients this year," Shi Qing, a senior consultant offering services for Chinese students applying for foreign colleges, told the
Global Times on Sunday.

Shi works in a high-end consultancy in Beijing which used to cater exclusively to students applying to study at American universities, but is now expanding its businesses to offer services for college applications to other regions.

"The COVID19 pandemic and China-US tensions are the two major reasons for the decline in our clients. The US' handling of COVID-19 was much worse than we had expected, some students who earlier decided to postpone their enrollment are now considering dropping their applications to go to the US," Shi said, noting that the impact may persist for some time even after the pandemic.

Per data from the Bureau of Consular Affairs under the US Department of State, the number of major visas issued for international students, the F1 visa, was 145 for Chinese mainland applicants in July, a drop from 21,781 in July 2019. 

In fact, the number of international students in the US has seen a declining trend since 2016, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing possible reasons including currency fluctuations, stronger competition from other countries and the xenophobic policies and rhetoric of the US President Donald Trump.

Amid rising tensions, the Trump-led US authority has moved to ban Chinese colleges and research institutes from accessing US technology exports, indirectly impacting the market of overseas students and high-end talent exchange.

"The situation has posed quite a challenge for our university's graduate students currently studying in the US and prospective students looking to study there," a source with the Harbin Institute of Technology, which was put onto the US Entity List in May, told the Global Times.

Recently the US even revoked visas for more than 1,000 Chinese nationals under a presidential measure by Trump .

Expanding choices

"Though the new enrollment of our students remains stable, it is now a whole new situation for college application procedures," Lisa Zhang, a teacher of a Beijing-based international high school, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"In previous years, over 70 percent of our students applied to only American universities," Zhang said, adding that many students used to have a specific goal to study in the US with dream schools in mind.

Now it is an entirely new situation, more than 90 percent of the students are preparing for applications to destinations including the UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore, according to Zhang.

Parents are giving more consideration to the security and social environment of a destination. "If there's no efficient and safe vaccine rolled out in the near future, students may not be able to start a normal campus life, even by next year," Zhang said, citing concerns from parents.

"And it is possible that the US government may further announce new restrictions on Chinese students, which is simply too risky for them," Zhang said.

Since Chinese parents feel more reassured by the COVID-19 containment in China, there are also an increasing number considering sending their children to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as students who have graduated from Hong Kong universities are regarded as having overseas learning experiences.

Furthermore, with the national security law in Hong Kong becoming effective, it is expected that the city will be more safe and amicable, which is now a crucial advantage when compared with other overseas destinations, Zhang noted.

Concerns over social discrimination

Though the trade war initiated by the US has cast shadows on bilateral relations, it would not greatly impact Chinese students and parents who are considering pursuing an academic life in the US, Li Yang, whose daughter is preparing for entrance exams for foreign universities, told the Global Times.

Political-level disputes are relatively normal on the world stage, however, the US seems to have shifted its approach entirely and is trying to confront China in every possible area, Li said.

Moreover, the Trump-led US authority seems to not mind cultivating hatred among different races which inevitably will poison the social environment including the campuses, Li said, adding that the undergraduate period is crucial for students in their early 20s and he would not let his daughter shape her values in a poisoned environment.

In responding to the news that a US university has decided to ask for the revocation of visas of visiting scholars who received funding from the Chinese Scholarship Council, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a regular media conference that since China and the US established diplomatic ties 41 years ago, the exchange of students and other forms of people-to-people exchange has played an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and advancing stable development of relations between the two sides.

"Statistics from the US show that Chinese students, accounting for one third of all foreign students in the US, contribute over $15 billion to the country every year," Hua said.

"Regrettably, however, out of selfish gains and political motives, some extremist, anti-China forces have been suppressing China's strategic development, making numerous lies to stigmatize and demonize Chinese students, and even oppressing Chinese students in the US by abusing judicial power under baseless pretexts. Under such circumstances, I wonder how many Chinese parents can still see their children studying in the US without worrying," Hua said.

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