International students in China can now work part-time
Will work for noodles. Source: AFP/Ed Jones

In between practising your Mandarin and slurping oodles of noodles, international students in China can now partake in the joyous world of work in the Asian republic.

China Daily reported that they can now work part-time during their studies, according to a statement by the country’s Education Ministry.

To Australian student Thomas Linnette, the move is a “welcome change” that will see a large jump in the number of students seeking part-time employment in China.

“I love China. I have a girlfriend here, and I’m ready to start my life here with her after I graduate,” he said.

“China is growing quite fast, with new and innovative industries springing up every day … I want to seize this growth opportunity and grow with China.”

So far, the 21-year-old who is studying at Tsinghua University has interned at consultancy firm KPMG and is set for another stint at e-hailing company Didi Chuxing.

Linnette’s internship experience is made possible by the country’s gradual relaxation of employment policies for international students, like Shanghai’s 2015 pilot program allowing foreign graduates from Chinese universities to intern.

Graduates were also allowed to start businesses in the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone for up to two years after graduation. This was then expanded a year on to let them do so during their studies.

Around the same time, international students in Beijing were permitted to work part-time in companies within the city’s Zhongguancun Science Park, thanks to new policies introduced by the Public Security Ministry.

Zhongguancun Science Park is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs located in Beijing, China with nearly 20,000 high- and new-tech enterprises Source: Shutterstock

Last year, postgraduate students or those from “well-known” universities were allowed to obtain Chinese work permits directly after graduation without having to prove a minimum of two years’ work experience outside China.

Relaxing visa policies is a strategy that makes sense, according to Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, an independent think tank. Graduates can apply what they learn in the real world while domestic enterprises planning to expand overseas can benefit from having foreign employees.

It’s a complete opposite of what traditional study destination favourites like the UK and the US are doing; ie. increasing restrictions on international students and graduates and their ability to work.

Unsurprisingly, this new development adds to the growing list of factors making China more attractive to global applicants as well.

As the country grows more economically prosperous, so too has its higher education sector among prospective international students worldwide.

In 2016, 440,000 students made their way to China for their study abroad adventure, a 35 percent increase since 2012. While this figure is overshadowed by the  450,000 international students studying in the UK, the recently launched ‘Study in China’ initiative could see even more students choosing the economic powerhouse in the future.

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