From the People's Daily app.
This is Story in the Story.
Going abroad to study is no longer just for the elite in China.
According to a survey of 6,217 people who plan to study overseas, conducted by Vision Overseas Consulting Co and Kantar Millward Brown, the students' main objectives are to broaden their horizons and gain a wide range of experience.
The survey found that 73 percent of respondents plan to return to China after graduation, while 40 percent simply want to enhance their resumes.
Ministry of Education data show that in 2007, only 44,000 people returned to China after studying overseas, but last year, the number had risen to 480,900.
However, the number of people choosing to study abroad during the same period only rose from 144,000 to 608,400, according to the ministry.
A degree from an overseas university was once regarded as the calling card for better employment opportunities. Yet, graduates returning to China are now realizing that studying abroad no longer guarantees a well-paid job.
Today’s Story in the Story will look at how returnees are struggling to make a mark in the Chinese job market.
Returnees chat with prospective employers at a job fair in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. (Photo: China Daily)
When Guo Shuai saw the Disney movie High School Musical as a middle school student, he became determined to study in the US.
Unlike the high-pressure, test-oriented school system with which he was familiar, the movie presented an alternative, carefree atmosphere.
When Guo graduated from Zhengzhou University in Henan province in 2015, he did not hesitate to move to Kansas to study at Fort Hays State University for a master's in business administration.
When he arrived, his rosy image of the US faded a little. The schedule at the university was much more intense than he had expected and he found it difficult to make friends and even apply to internships.
When he returned to China, Guo found that his overseas degree did not make him stand out in the competitive job market.
“Since I had not applied for internships in the United States, the only thing that made me valuable to employers was my language skills.”
He spent more than three months unemployed before securing a job as a translator at a financial company in Shanghai, earning about 8,000 yuan a month.
(Photo: China Daily)
Jiang Yuqiong, had also harbored a dream of studying abroad since childhood, looking to broaden her horizons and see the world. She also hoped that an overseas degree would give her an edge in the domestic job market.
When Jiang finished a master's in accounting and finance at Durham University in the UK last year, she discovered that her qualifications actually made her less competitive than graduates from Chinese schools.
She applied to the auditing departments at the “Big Four” accountancy firms - KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young - but did not receive any replies.
“In my opinion, the big four prefer students with bachelor's degrees for those jobs because they can pay them less,” she said.
After spending four months doubting her abilities and the value of her education, Jiang finally landed a job as a consultant at a multinational management company in Shanghai, earning more than 10,000 yuan a month.
Neither Guo nor Jiang regrets studying overseas, despite the heavy financial burden.
Guo paid 400,000 yuan for his two-year program, while Jiang's 12 months of study cost 300,000 yuan - because they hoped the experience would help them earn decent salaries in their first jobs.
Shi Yan, of the Chivast Education International consultancy in Beijing, said more people are returning to China because they are finding it difficult to land jobs overseas and the domestic employment market is more appealing.
Shi said that one of the biggest obstacles to securing a job is that they miss the prime job-seeking season – which starts around October and November – since overseas students typically graduate during the summer.
Zhao Hongxue, a senior human resources expert at Huicai International Management Consulting in Beijing, said finding a job has not been easy in recent years because of the rising number of students graduating from domestic universities.
The deeper talent pool means businesses are now paying more attention to the personalities and abilities of prospective employees, regardless of academic status or family background, and irrespective of whether they are domestic students, graduates returning from overseas or expats, she said.
Overseas study still provides returnees with one advantage, according to Zhao - their experience tends to make them more independent and equips them with a global mindset and better communication skills, which are all important for future promotion opportunities.
(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Raymond Mendoza and Lance Crayon. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily and People’s Daily.)