A new QS report predicts that more Asian students are likely to pursue higher education in Asian universities in the coming years – a shift from the East-to-West student mobility flow that has ruled the landscape thus far.
Titled Your Higher Education Spotlight on Asia, the report collated data from 20 focus groups, over 50 individual interviews, and more than 300 survey responses across China, Indonesia and Malaysia.
According to the report, the top five study destinations for prospective Asian students are the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Comparatively, the QS 2019 International Student Survey placed Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, and China in the top ten study destinations for Asian applicants.
Opportunities abound in Asian universities
This growing interest in regional universities can be attributed to several factors. For one, the higher education landscape in Asia has been booming with more academic courses, specialisations and support within emerging economies – particularly Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
Further, Indonesia has recently opened up its higher education sector to major foreign players. This paints an optimistic picture for the future of the country as a respectable higher education hub within Asia; it may soon join the ranks of neighbours Malaysia and Singapore.
Besides the reasons above, Asian students’ sentiments on traditional study abroad destinations may also be dampening. It’s hard for international students to predict opportunities and stability in post-Brexit UK, and things seem to be going down the same path in the US.
Bonard COO & head of China branch Igor Skibickij told The PIE News that the number of Chinese students studying in the US has declined for the ninth consecutive year. This is attributed to the rising costs of tertiary education there, stricter visa application and approval process, as well as an unfavourable socio-political climate under the Trump administration.
What matters to Asian students?
The report also looked into other factors affecting the higher education choices of Asian students.
Here are the key findings:
- Friends and family heavily influence study abroad decisions — Prospective students reported that they are most likely to consider the opinions of friends (61 percent), employers (53 percent) and family (50 percent) when it comes to selecting a university.
- Subject rankings are more important than general rankings — When searching for their ideal university, Asian students prioritise the modules and curriculum of the subject area they will be pursuing over university rankings. For example, the growth of business and management courses are in line with the rise in entrepreneurship and Asian graduates aspiring to run their own business.
- Graduate employability a crucial factor — Almost half (41 percent) of respondents agreed that career support is the most important factor in their university selection, followed by university reputation among employers (38 percent). Some may choose to pursue a second degree out of personal interest or go for higher-level qualifications with the intent to specialise in their field. This shows prospective Asian students are concerned about the reputability of foreign qualifications and what it means for their future employability.