Weighing up the Options; Chinese International Students and Career Paths

We’ve just recently released our Q4 update for our ongoing higher education research at United Media Solution. This article wraps up key points from section 3 of the whitepaper report to provide international education marketers with insights into changing study motivations for their 2024 strategy.


The pandemic has significantly impacted the trajectory of people’s lives, with students facing the challenge of where to next. The number of university students graduating in China this year reached a record 11.6 million. Most of these students had to study at home during the pandemic and missed out on vital internships, networking on-campus, in-person career advice from teachers and encouragement from peers. These factors that help to provide inertia and confidence for young people to enter the job market are now missing from entire cohort of potential employees. This has resulted in a series of changes for students motivations to search for overseas education.

Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons, Graduation Ceremony


Various industries that welcomed new graduates, including the online education sector, technology, and real estate sales, have all been impacted by various policy changes in the China market. Economic head winds have also dampened entrepreneurial ambitions. Start-ups and new businesses that would usually absorb significant numbers of graduates have delayed putting capital at risk until there are clear signs of sustained economic growth1. More and more people are looking for overseas opportunities due to the decrease in connections and lack of experience to join the job market in China.

Image Credit: WikiMediaCommons,

Many young people in China are also deciding to delay entering the workforce to spend time with friends and family and catch up on ‘normal life’ which was impossible during the pandemic. Some are taking this to the extreme and becoming ‘full time children’ living at home and collecting ‘wages’ for housework and shopping duties2.

Image Credit: Raw Pixel, People Crowded.

While this may be a drain on the labour market momentum, there is continued interest in studying abroad, both from high-schoolers and university graduates. Reports have noted that Chinese applications for Australia and New Zealand grew by 129% year-on-year in Q1, 2023, and that applications also rose for Canada (95%) and the UK (44%). New Channel International Education Group reported a 45% increase in inquiries in Q1, 2023 compared to Q1, 20223.

For UMS, it is important for us to understand the evolving challenges and opportunities in major education destinations. Our insights team has gathered the latest updates to provide a ‘report card’ on the education market recovery and the next steps to bolster enrolment from students in China.

To find out more about Chinese international students and what they are looking for in the future, check out our new education whitepaper, China Report Card: International Education Update, below:


1) Deloitte, Weekly Global Economic Update, October 2023 https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/economy/global-economic-outlook/weekly-update.html

2) AP China’s ‘full-time children’ move back in with parents, September 2023 https://apnews.com/article/china-youth-un- employment-jobs-economy-aeddf9fd7c188db7d72dbb3cca6ebbf7

3) ICEF Monitor, August 2023 https://monitor.icef.com/2023/08/facing-poor-job-prospects-at-home-chinese-students-see-the-allure-of-study- abroad/