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INTERNATIONAL

EDUCATION RESEARCH

Demographics of Students on USIEA Study Abroad Programs

With the increasing number of study abroad students, the source of the students are more diverse. In order to have a better understanding of the demographics of students choosing Study Abroad programs, USIEA conducted a research by sending questionnaires to students who joined Study Abroad programs from Year 2012 to Year 2014. This summary is based on analysis of 854 valid samples.

1. Gender

Keywords: Female students

According to the data, the number of female visiting students is significantly higher than the number of male, and this gap between genders is widening. (From 2012 to 2014, the number of female students is 2.2, 2.6, and 2.7 times the number of the male students respectively.)This tendency is consistent with the overall gender mix of Chinese students who are studying overseas. Coincidentally, the proportion of girls in Chinese colleges has been on rise over the last 20 years. Girls tend to be more adaptable to the current educational system and their academic performance is generally quite good. On the other hand, parents are willing to provide their only child with opportunities to study abroad due to the One—Child Policy.

2. Grades

Keywords: Junior Grades,Postgraduate Students

Data statistics show that the sophomore and the junior students make the largest portion of all visiting students. More than 70% of the visiting students come from these two groups.In 2014, the number of freshman in visiting study program is 2 timesthe number of freshman in 2013 and 3 times the number of freshman in 2012. Freshmen benefit more from participating study programs at junior grades as it leaves more time for students to make future study plans by experiencing American education earlier; and students have less pressure on credit transfer as there is more time for them to make up missed lessons when they return to home universities.It is believed that this trend will be maintained the next few years.

At the same time, the number of postgraduate students joining Study Abroad programs is increasing rapidly these years. The number of the first year postgraduate students in visiting programs has been doubled, and the number of second year postgraduate students hasbeen tripled from 2012 to 2014.

3. Major

Keywords: Diversity, Science and Engineering

A large number of students’ academic background on Study Abroad programs includes five majors: Economics and Finance, Foreign Languages, Humanities and Social Sciences, Engineering, Computer and IT. Most visiting students continue to study these majors in American universities.The statistics shows a large diversity of majors which students have chosen to study abroad.

With the speeding up of higher education globalization process in Chinese universities, there is an obvious demand on STEM majors apart from business and arts majors which hadalready been mainstream choices of most international programs. Especially in line with the overall “Study Overseas Wave” and “Immigration Wave”, Chinese students with science and engineering majors have enjoyed more obvious advantages, which havefacilitated the increase of students with STEM backgrounds. According to the collected data, the number of visiting students from Engineering and Science in 2014 is double the number of those in 2013. And students’ choices of majors are more diverse, some students even choose very professional majors such as nuclear physics.

4. Place of Origin

Keywords: Widely Distributed

The number of visiting students across the country is growing steadily every year. In addition to the eastern and southern China whichhas always been the economically relatively developed area, we are very pleased to find that the number of students in other areas is increasing rapidly. In the southwest of China, the number of visiting students has been increased by 487% from 2012 to 2014, 290% in northwest China, 180% in north China and 130% in northeast China.

The awareness of Study Abroad programs has been increased among Chinese universities students with the development of higher education internationalization in Chinese universities. Students who had joined study abroad programs earlier have returned to their home universities, and they share their experience and improvements with potential students, which has encouraged more students to join the programs. We predict that this increasing momentum will be maintained in the next few years.

5. Family Economic Condition

Key words: Mid-Income Family

Nearly 50% of the visiting students come from the families whose annual income is RMB200K to RMB500K. In 2014, thenumber of families with annual income RMB100K to RMB200K doubled comparing the number in 2013.

With the development of Chinese economy, more and more families are willing to increase investment in education, especially the middle class families. In these families, at least one parent hasgood education background and relatively high income, which makes them more open to study overseas opportunities.