Chinese students spread their wings in Asia

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Primary school students, including Gu Keyu’s daughter, fourth from right, celebrate the end of the summer term in Chiang Mai, Thailand in June 2019. CHINA DAILY

Singapore and Thailand among several popular destinations

A growing number of Chinese students are studying elsewhere in Asia, attracted by high-quality education, comfortable living conditions and relatively lower costs than in Western countries.

Due to the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative and the region’s rapid economic development, more and more Chinese students are reconsidering their overseas study destinations.

In 2015, the total number of exchange students between China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations exceeded 190,000. According to the ASEAN-China Center, some 120,000 Chinese students were studying for the mostly in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The growth of quality education in the region is the main attraction for Chinese students.

According to the recently released QS World University Rankings 2022, more than 10 universities from Asian countries (excluding China) are listed in the top 100, led by National University of Singapore in 11th place, and Nanyang Technological University, also in Singapore, in 12th place.

For 28-year-old Zhang Mila, applying for a master’s degree in science communication at NUS in 2016 was the first time she made a big decision about her life. Zhang, who was born in Longyan, Fujian Province, graduated from Macau University with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences in communication.

“I spent two months in the summer of 2016 thinking about where to go for my postgraduate studies. Despite offers from universities in the UK and Australia, I ultimately chose Singapore because of its high level of education and its tropical climate,” Zhang said.

As the only Chinese student in the faculty, she fell on hard times and began to doubt her ability to survive high-pressure study abroad in Singapore.

“Although I got used to the English teaching curriculum in my undergraduate studies, I struggled at the beginning of my postgraduate course to understand the accents of Singapore English and with the high level required for professional writing,” Zhang said.

However, she released her academic pressure through fencing, a sport she first practiced as a freshman undergraduate. She joined the NUS fencing team, participated in competitions and made good friends through various social activities.

After overcoming her difficulties, Zhang eventually became more open-minded and tough.

“The diverse program may not help me in my future career, but it has broadened my horizons and knowledge by allowing me to gain a broader understanding of the world. I am now more willing to absorb knowledge at various respects,” Zhang said.

She added that due to Singapore’s multicultural environment, she became more tolerant and willing to accept differences when she met people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Zhang said the number of Chinese students in Singapore has continued to rise since his arrival, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“I suggest that prospective students think clearly about their future and their biggest concerns while studying abroad. If they want to broaden their worldview and stay geographically close to China with fewer cultural differences, Singapore could be a good option,” said Zhang, who works as a researcher at a national institute in the city-state – her first job since graduating from NUS in 2018.

At the end of April, there were some 65,400 international students in Singapore, up about 10% year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Education and that country’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, or ICA.

The 2021 Report on Chinese Students’ Study Abroad, released by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, shows that the proportion of Chinese students wishing to study in Singapore has risen from 9% to 12% in the past three years. .

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