Wooing Chinese students with relaxed visa rules
The promise of less painful visa application processes were highlighted as one of the main selling points by many of the overseas schools that participated in the China International Education Exhibition in Shanghai on May 15.
A number of countries such as France and Canada have in recent months relaxed their visa policies in what looks to be an attempt to attract Chinese students who are seeking overseas education. China has for several years been the world’s largest supplier of students to foreign education institutes.
The French Embassy in China announced on May 12 that undergraduate students from top Chinese universities who are headed to France for exchange or double degree programs will for the first time in history be exempted from a visa interview. Moreover, awardees of a government scholarship by either France, China or any country in the European Union will be exempted from paying the visa application fee.
Canada also issued a new ruling in April stipulating that foreign students no longer have to submit proof of their parents’ incomes when applying for student visas.
Meanwhile, the British Consulate has announced that those who have earned a PhD in the United Kingdom will be granted a work visa that is valid for two years. In addition, graduates with business plans can compete for the entrepreneurship visa that has a one-year validity.
“Not all universities have quota for such visas. We have 15 headcounts for such visas this year,” said Jin Jing, senior promotion manager of Anglia Ruskin University in East England.
An increasing number of Chinese students are opting for undergraduate studies abroad these days. According to statisticsfromChina’sMinistryofEducation, the number of students going abroad breached 500,000 in 2015, making China the largest supplier of students to schools in some Western countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
More than 120,000 Chinese students left for Canada to further their studies last year, up 11.6 percent year-on-year, while 71,000 obtained student visas for the UK, up 10 percent year-on-year.
“The growth rate may seem to have slowed down when compared to 15 and 13 percent in the previous two years, but the population base is actually becoming bigger,” said Lu Zhijian, an education officer with the British Consulate General in Shanghai.
Li Weiping, deputy secretary general of International Education Association in Shanghai, expects the number of Chinese students studying overseas to grow in the following few years.
Universities from some countries which made their debut at the exhibition, such as Poland, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates, used scholarships and promising career opportunities to compete for enrollment.
For instance, outstanding students who earn government scholarships at Hungarian universities will be exempted from tuition and accommodation fees and be given an allowance ranging from 130 euros ($147) to 325 euros per month.