Chinese students wanting to study overseas need to make big decisions when choosing to study abroad: destination country, university and fields of study. So then, what are the top factors that help students and their parents make these decisions?
Here we uncover the top factors that influence Chinese students to study abroad, to help you understand their decision-making process.
Top Factors Influencing the Choice of Destination Country
Students and parents both agree on the top five factors when deciding which destination country the student would study in. They are education quality, culture of the country, the overall competency of the country, favourite elite school and an advantage in fields of study in that country. Unlike parents, though, students rate the culture of the country more highly, with a difference of 10 points (42% to 32%). This is the factor with the most significant difference between opinions and, as it is also the second highest factor influencing the final destination decision; it is important that marketers understand this1.
The top five factors influencing choice of destination country are education quality, culture, the overall competency of the country, favourite elite school and an advantage in some field in that country.
Top factors influencing the choice of destination country
There were slight differences in the reasons why students selected their host country. Australia and New Zealand were chosen regularly for their better environment, while the USA was chosen based on perceived education quality and the UK often selected for the culture of the country.
Top factors for destination country selection
Top Factors Influencing the Choice of University
It’s clear that the availability of the right major, the likelihood of admission, and a good school ranking are key drivers for the student’s final choice of university. Other factors such as school facilities, scholarships or employment prospects are of less concern of Chinese students studying abroad.
The availability of the right major, the likelihood of admission, and a good school ranking are key drivers for the student’s final choice of university.
Top factors influencing the choice of university/school
Main Considerations When Selecting a Field of Study
The decision to study overseas can be difficult, as can the student’s final selection of a field of study. Students from China are very rational when making their choices, basing their decisions on practical considerations such as their personal interests or employment prospects rather than parental expectations.
Students from China are very rational when making their choices, basing their decisions on practical considerations such as their personal interests or employment prospects.
So, what reasons do these students give for selecting their field of study?
A 2015 report shows that 54% of survey respondents were guided by a hobby or interest while 53% considered their future employment opportunities. These are the top two considerations and are rated well ahead of the other influencing factors2.
The next consideration, at 29%, is the admission requirements of the major while 19% considered the complexity of the major. 22%, with an 11% equal split, were influenced by immigration considerations and parents’ expectations3.
Top factors to determine field of study
Preference on the Ranking of Universities
Both Chinese students and their parents traditionally see the ranking of a university as a critical factor when choosing a school, however the preference on the rankings of the chosen universities varied. While many were concerned that they were gaining entry into one of the top 50 universities (25%), the majority (37%) made their choice based on the fact it ranked in the top 100 universities in the country. Relatively more parents than students prefer the top 50 universities (30% vs. 23%) while more students than parents pay no attention to school ranking (17% vs. 12%)4.
It’s important to understand that students and their parents have different preferences over the ranking of universities based on different countries.
Preference on the ranking of universities
When looking at the universities in the USA, 54% preferred the top 50 universities, 32% the top 100 and 6%, the top 2005.
Those applying to Australia were focused on the top ten universities in the country (77%), while the remaining 23% paid no attention to ranking. Any Australian university ranked below the top ten will require more effort and resources to overcome their disadvantage and draw attention to themselves. By tailoring specific value propositions for students and their families coming from China, they will attract their interest and capitalise on the growing demand for international education6.
Students and their parents have different preferences over the ranking of universities based on different countries.
Preference on the ranking of universities by country
As we see, these key considerations have a major influence on the final choice of destination country and university. Marketers and education institutions should be aware of these factors influencing Chinese students to study abroad, so they can address them as part of their China digital marketing strategy and recruitment campaigns when marketing in China.
1,4 (2016). Chinese Students’ Overseas Study Report 2016. New Oriental Group.
2,3,5,6 (2015) Chinese Students’ Overseas Study Status Report 2015. Mew Oriental Group