More international students are choosing to study in China, but job prospects remain bleak upon graduation. Source:

More students than ever before are choosing to study in China, but tight visa restrictions mean graduation will most likely be the end of their time there.

China hopes to welcome at least 500,000 international students by 2020, The Times Higher Education reported. This would be up from 400,000 last year.

But as China becomes an international education hub, students may struggle to find a job after graduation due to strict visa regulations.

This is the fate of Calvin Ho, a student from Indonesia, who earned a place on the two-year International Relations Master’s Degree at Tsinghua University.

“I really, really want to work in China, to take advantage of my educational background, but some of my seniors did not get a job and had to return home,” Ho told South China Morning Post.

A job fair for international students held last year by the Ministry of Education found 95 per cent of them wanted a job in China.

“Many foreign students want to stay in China but they can’t,” Eric Liu, a consultant at Foreign HR, a Beijing-based recruitment agency for foreigners, told SCMP.

“If a foreigner graduates from a language course or obtains a bachelor’s degree and wishes to stay on and find a job, they can’t obtain the work permit.”

Only half the amount of international students managed to gain a work permit after graduation last year, because students need two years of post-graduation experience before applying for a work permit.

Charlotte Conerly, a student from the United States who studied International Relations at Tsinghua University, said that while it is easy to find a job in English teaching, it is much harder to find a job you actually want.

Malaysian Joker Lai Kok Kiong agreed that while there are opportunities, they might not be the opportunities students want: “We can either join a big international firm, where we will only be a cog in a machine and the room for promotion is limited, or we can join a start-up company. We need to think about the prospects of such companies because some will eventually fail.”

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