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Global Financial Crisis Boosts Overseas Study

The negative effects of the current financial turmoil continue to spread around the world. However, overseas studies consulting and training centers in China are booming as Chinese students realize they may be able to avail of a considerable discount of sorts if they go abroad now.

At many overseas studies training schools, language classes such as English, Spanish and German, are packed with students.

Jiang Shu is the executive director of the overseas studies service center at Sichuan International Studies University. She says some 300 students and parents made inquiries at the center every month, which is twice the figure during the same period last year. One of the main reasons behind this increasing interest is that students are realizing it is now more economical to study abroad.

With more students planning to study overseas, the number of people taking language proficiency tests is soaring. Zeng Chuanfang, the deputy director of the overseas studies training center at Sichuan International Studies University, said "Usually, TOEFL tests are held once a week. But now, we will hold 6 TOEFL tests in November. As for the IELTS test, it was held once a month in the past, but will now be twice a month."

According to Zeng Chuanfang, such a trend is mainly driven by reduced tuition fees caused by rising exchange rates. For example, it costs an average of US$40,000 a year for a bachelor's degree and living expenses in the US. That's about 320,000 yuan. But now a student only needs 270,000 to cover his whole year's studies. Similarly, it costs 100,000 yuan less to study in Britain.

Recruiting foreign students is a method many overseas universities use to deal with a global financial downturn. Wang Xiaoying, representative of The University of Cincinnati in China, explains that "The US is trying to increase its revenue by attracting more overseas students. So the visa application success rate should be higher now. The rate for master's degree application is about 85%, the rate for bachelor students should be around 60-70 percent."

However, in the current economic situation, Chinese students may have great difficulty in finding a job abroad. In Britain and the European Union, job market policies favor the local workforce. So determining whether to study overseas and how to cover the cost of overseas studies after graduation will remain a question for many Chinese students to answer.

( November 4, 2008)

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