Jan 11, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

More and more students -- particularly those from other Asian nations -- are choosing to study in China. However, despite the country’s openness to welcoming international students, they face a challenging job market after graduation. Here’s a closer look at the situation, as recently reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Rising Interest

According to the SCMP, more than 442,000 international students studied in China in 2016 -- up from 52,150 in 2000. Asian students made up more than half of the international demographic, trailed by students from Africa.

As interest in China’s higher education opportunities has increased, so has interest in employment. In fact, 95 percent of international students attending a Ministry of Education job fair last year in China said they wanted jobs there -- up from 82.7 percent and 33 percent according to earlier surveys conducted in 2009 and 2001, respectively.

Limited Opportunities

All of which begs the question: How are these same students faring on the job market -- particularly given that just 235,000 foreigners had work permits in China last year? As international recruitment consultant Eric Liu told the SCMP, “Many foreign students want to stay in China but they can’t. If a foreigner graduates from a language course or obtains a bachelor’s degree and wishes to stay on and find a job, they can’t obtain the work permit.”

The good news? The outlook may better moving forward thanks to changes made last January by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security which now allow postgraduates from “excellent universities” to apply for China without work permits. (Previously, international students were required to have a minimum of two years of experience in order to work in China.)

And while international students are still reporting long and/or unsuccessful job hunts, many remain optimistic - albeit cautiously so. One German graduate of a Chinese university currently enrolled in a master’s degree in Germany said he hopes to land a job with a German company in China upon completion of his degree. “I am sure many local firms could make use of my education and my background, especially if they want to go global,” he told the SCMP.

Read more about studying in China.








Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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