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American students losing interest in studying in China over pollution and job opportunities

American students losing interest in studying in China over pollution and job opportunities

At the University of California Education Abroad Programme (UCEAP), student enrolment in programs in China is expected to be less than half the level it was only four years ago. Washington-based CET, another leading study abroad group, says interest in China has been falling since 2013.

Between 2002 and 2006, Chinese language study at US institutes of higher education leapt 50 per cent, according to the Modern Language Association (MLA); it grew a further 16 per cent between 2006 and 2009. But from 2009 to 2013, growth in enrolment had slowed to just two per cent, an MLA study released last month shows, even as overall study abroad numbers rose modestly.

For U.S. students, China's notorious pollution is a concern. Job opportunities are another. As multinationals in China hire mostly local Chinese, a growing percentage of whom have studied abroad, they have less need for foreigners who speak Chinese.

“It really comes down to money,” says John Thomson, a veteran China study abroad executive. “You're taking yourself out of the job market for a couple years to study an extremely difficult language with no guaranteed pay-off at the end.”


Updated : 2021-09-19 10:53 GMT+08:00