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  • Alicia Sigmon

Study Abroad Surge Predicted for 2023

2023 is the year of the rabbit, symbolizing longevity, peace, and prosperity, and this year is one of hope for many, especially China’s students planning to study abroad. After Covid delays and going through an economic downturn, this is the year when their plans and dreams to study abroad will come to fruition.

Person putting a red sign with the character "Fu" on a window.
There are many New Year’s greetings in Chinese, including tailored sayings for each Chinese zodiac. This year, a common new year’s greeting is 兔年大吉 (tùnián dàjí), or “Wishing you lots of luck this Rabbit Year!”

Check out China Highlight's article for more 2023 New Year Greetings.

What’s driving the surge?

Two main factors are driving the potential study abroad surge in 2023: Covid and the economy. In this article, we will discuss how these factors are intertwined to affect study-abroad prospects.

China’s Covid Policies

In the past year, there have been two spikes in searches about study abroad and emigration, one in April and another in December. According to The Pie News and Sunrise, in April 2022, amidst widespread lockdowns in China, there was a 440% increase in searches about emigration on WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform. The second spike occurred in December 2022 during the protests about China’s strict Covid policies.

After the protests, China’s zero-tolerance policy abruptly came to an end, leading to a massive increase in Covid cases and deaths throughout China. By February, this Covid surge has begun to decline, leaving many Chinese people hopeful for the future, especially students. Chinese students lived in fear of Covid for three years, with the zero-tolerance policy meaning no international travel, limited travel within China, frequent Covid tests, and sudden, strict lockdowns. Now, students who delayed or canceled study abroad plans have hope again, and they’ve been dreaming and planning this for three years.

Mountains in Shidu, a town in Fangshang District, Beijing
Unable to travel abroad, Chinese students still had many options for travel within China, like visiting these beautiful mountains in Shidu, a town in Fangshang District, Beijing | Photo by vnwayne fan on Unsplash

The Economy

Even before the end of zero-tolerance, students were looking into studying abroad to leave behind the strict restrictions and China’s economic downturn. In 2022, a record high of 20% of youths were unemployed, and at the same time, 11 million students graduated from Chinese universities. China’s strict Covid policies from 2020 through 2022 have hindered economic growth, leaving recent graduates not only fearful of Covid but struggling to find work.

With the economic downturn, there will be an increase in interest in graduate programs. China prizes education, and so students strongly believe in the power of education. Graduate courses abroad then may also benefit from this renewed interest and open borders.

How will increased study abroad affect recruitment?

Not only do students benefit from studying abroad, but their host country also benefits from cultural exchange, different perspectives, and the workforce. With such a large population and global mindset, Chinese students are some of the highest percentages of students studying abroad.

The US has long been a top destination for Chinese students, but with political tension, American gun violence, and an increase in Asian hate crimes, interest in US study abroad has decreased. The Wall Street Journal’s study showed that in 2015, 51% of Chinese students that participated in their study wanted to study abroad in the US. That percentage decreased to 30% in 2022; however, over the same timeframe, there was a 9% increase for study abroad in the UK and over a 100% increase in studying abroad in Hong Kong and Singapore.

During this surge in study abroad from China, all international institutions have a chance to prove themselves as top destinations for study abroad. Below, we have compiled some actionable steps for recruiting Chinese students.

1. Recruit with empathy

The pandemic is not over, and our new normal is drastically different from 2019. All around the world, many have lost loved ones and experienced trauma and isolation. By following current events in China and sharing resources available at your institution, you can show how your institution actively strives to understand and support its international students.

2. Promote campus resources

While each school has something unique to offer, brochures for international recruitment can look very similar, with beautiful campuses and great professors. To stand out, we recommend promoting mental health services, tutoring services, and Residential Assistants (RAs), as these services may come as a surprise to Chinese students.

Read about more campus resources to promote to Chinese students here!

Four people talking in a coffee shop
Business students meeting at a local coffee shop to discuss an upcoming project | Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

3. Demonstrate true student experience

Word of mouth and knowing someone is the most important factor for Chinese students when choosing a study abroad destination. With the upcoming surge, recruiting Chinese students is now especially crucial so that they can share their good experiences with friends. eduFair helps partner institutions collect student-made content in the ‘Student Perspectives’ area of their eduFair e-booth to make developing relationships with prospective students easy.

Read about more ways to demonstrate true student experience here!

4. Share information about transfers

Students who have already started their studies but want to study abroad will be looking into transfers now. They’ll want to know if your institution accepts credits from China, what tests and GPA are required, the documents needed to transfer, and more.

Check out our article What Chinese Students Need to Know About Transferring for more information!

5. Update your eduFair profile

Many students and parents will be looking into pathway or language programs to prepare for their international education. They’ll also be looking into international high schools, undergraduate or graduate programs, and more. Make sure your eduFair e-booth is up-to-date with all schools, departments, and programs so that students can come to you!



eduFair China is a free website and app connecting Chinese students with international institutions and first-hand resources about studying abroad. We aim to give students a more empowered approach to international education so that they can succeed during their journey abroad.

Our platform features more than 1,200 organizations and reaches millions of students across China.

Click here to learn more about getting your institution online and how eduFair can help you reach students in China.



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