Around 80 percent of Chinese students who have studied abroad in the past three years have pursued postgraduate studies, according to a new report.
Released by overseas study consultancy EIC Education, the report, based on client surveys, said that in the past three years, 92 percent of students going to Hong Kong and the United Kingdom for study were postgraduate students, followed by Singapore with 84 percent and Australia with 78 percent.
Business and economics were the most favored disciplines this year, studied by 33 percent of all students, while engineering (23 percent) and social studies (21 percent) ranked second and third.
Increasing employment competitiveness is the biggest reason for Chinese students to go abroad for postgraduate studies, with other reasons including broadening horizons and improving language skills.
The report found that only 7 percent of students chose to work overseas and apply for citizenship after graduation this year, while 25 percent said they would return to China immediately. Another 25 percent said they would return after working abroad for some time and 27 percent said they were still undecided.
According to the Ministry of Education, more than 80 percent of overseas Chinese students have returned to the mainland to work after graduation in the past decade.
Jiang Lige, 25, graduated from Queen Mary University of London in the UK with a master's degree in corporate finance in September.
The main reason for her to go abroad for postgraduate studies was that it was too difficult and very competitive to enroll in good Chinese universities for postgraduate studies for finance majors, she said.
She also likes the UK and wanted to experience different cultures and the learning environment in other countries. However, Jiang never considered working abroad and returned to work at a financial company in Beijing.
The overseas study experience and fluency in English helped her land the job, she said.
Li Muzi, 24, is a first-year postgraduate student at Northeastern University in the United States, majoring in project management.
He said he chose to study abroad to see the bigger world and become more independent. The main attraction for him was the sports culture at US universities as he plays football often.
Although studying abroad has become less cost-effective as it is very hard to earn back the tuition and other fees, one cannot measure it purely via monetary gains, he said.