International Students Return to China Despite Stagnant Job Market

A study by LinkedIn China has revealed that although many Chinese international students would prefer to live and work abroad, familial duty and enticing offers are beckoning them home

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Hayley Zhao
1:18 PM HKT, Mon December 5, 2022 1 mins read

Graduation is always an exciting time. Receiving your cap and gown, attending the commencement ceremony, and seeing your loved ones clapping and cheering for you as you receive your degree on stage are things that you’ll remember for life.

However, graduating can also come with a lot of anxiety. It marks the start of many young people’s job searches, which can be stressful and tiresome, especially for international students. The burning question for many of them is: should I stay here or return home?

A recent report released by LinkedIn China has revealed that most Chinese international students prefer to find jobs overseas since they’re less familiar with China’s hiring processes. They’re also concerned about lower salaries in their home country and not fitting in with overtime or 996 work culture.

However, this willingness to remain abroad after graduation varies by country. Chinese students in Canada and the U.S. are more willing to find a job and continue living in the country where they received their education compared to European countries such as England and France.

However, the data also shows that more international students have been returning to China — a decision perhaps fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, more than 1 million Chinese international students returned to their motherland — double 2018’s figures.

Most returnees have cited ‘family’ and ‘cultural issues’ as their reasons for coming back to China.

international student, Chinese international students, jobs

The past three years have seen an increase in the number of Chinese international students returning to China. Chart via LinkedIn China

Most youths who have returned to China have chosen to find jobs at foreign-owned companies or companies with foreign capital in tier-one cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. The majority of these fresh grads have entered the tech and finance sectors.

In recent years, the Chinese government has also been working on bringing home talent from overseas.

Many cities have been offering incentives to attract international students. For instance, Guangzhou, the largest city in southern China, now offers international students up to 100,000 RMB (around 14,130 USD) in housing subsidies. Hangzhou, on the other hand, offers international students who want to start their own businesses up to 5 million RMB (about 706,544 USD) with stipulations.

Cover image via Depositphotos

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