The United States has been the destination for many who wish to further their education, but in recent years, Chinese students have slowly decided to find other options.
The decline in US popularity could lead to a domino effect that burns cultural, diplomatic, and financial bridges for the country.
The discovery came from a recent survey conducted by a Beijing-based private education provider, the New Oriental Education and Technology Group.
The survey had 8,610 respondents on foreign studies of Chinese students.
The researchers found that interest in the study in the United States has steadily declined in the Middle Kingdom since 2015, while interest in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Singapore has increased.
The waning interest comes after more than a decade in which China has become the leading source of international students in the United States.
The number has grown over the years.
Most foreign students pay three times more than state students in public universities because they are not eligible for financial aid.
According to economists, Chinese undergraduate students play an important role in helping universities finance other costs.
“There are many at the master’s level that are reliant on China for the revenue,” said Nikolai Roussanov, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Open Doors of the Institute of International Education also released a report showing that Chinese students represent 35% of all international students studying in the country in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Chinese students contributed $ 15.9 billion in economic value.
The declining number of Chinese students studying in the United States can be attributed to a number of circumstances that may involve political intervention or their choice.
One possibility that has been discussed is former President Donald Trump’s anti-Chinese immigration policy, while China’s strict COVID-lockdown policy could raise a new red flag.
Chinese students also reported feeling wary about the high level of gun violence in the United States, high death rates from COVID-19, and growing anti-Asian racism, as reported by The Wall Street Journal’s Sha Hua and Melissa Korn.
An economist also spoke to Business Insider and said Chinese students are losing interest in US education, putting other aspects of the US economy at risk; relevant industries include technology and finance.
“Any news about declining international demand for US education is very sensitive and should be taken very seriously, more seriously than loss of US comparative advantage in any other area arguably,” said Oleg Itskhoki, an economics professor at the University of California.
The Wall Street Journal broke down the study, noting that 51% of Chinese students surveyed said they wanted to study in the United States in 2015.
By 2022, that number dropped to 30%. Meanwhile, students have indicated they want to study in the UK and the number has increased by 9%, more than doubling for Hong Kong and Singapore.
“One may argue that US leadership in the world is best reflected in two export services – that of finance and that of education,” said Itskhoki.
Roussanov assured that there will be no significant negative effects on the economy based on the current number of registrations.
However, he also said the trajectory of the poll numbers is worrying.
Roussanov pointed to the sectors in which Chinese expats enter and contribute after graduation.