UK-China International Student Market Update

hellouni by ICAN Future Star

  • Number of international students studying in China has greatly increased year on year
  • 450,000 international students studied in China in 2016
  • Chinese government targeting 500,000 international students received in 2020
  • In 2017 China will compete for foreign students with countries like UK, Canada, Germany & France
  • In 2016 number of UK residents seeking a degree or work experience in China tripled


  • Chinese government driving high education standards & scholarships to attract prospective applicants
  • Chinese government has increased the number of scholarships available to international students 5 times over since 2006
  • In 2016 40% of international students welcomed by China received a government scholarship

#1 Destination Worldwide

  • Our partner predicts that China will overtake the UK as the #2 destination in the world for study abroad and then go on to compete with the current #1 the US
  • The University of Liverpool forecasts that the number of UK residents going to China will further increase in the run up to Brexit as UK universities seek global partnerships in the East whilst there is uncertainty over EU partnerships


  • China is recognised for high standard of teaching in business & economics
  • Students are more aware than ever before of the need to gain competitive experience valued by employers
  • Demand for study abroad among Chinese students will remain strong whilst Chinese employers continue to value foreign degrees

UK Universities

  • The Universities of Liverpool, Nottingham and Leicester offer study abroad programs and campuses in China

Outbound Chinese Students

  • Over 500,000 Chinese students studied abroad in 2015, yet 80% return home to work after completing their degree
  • US, UK, Australia, South Korea & Japan are most popular destinations for Chinese students
  • US most popular choice for Chinese PhD students studying abroad
  • South Korea most popular choice for Chinese undergraduates studying abroad


  • 97% of Chinese students overseas are self-funded

Chinese Universities

  • Peking University, a prestigious institution in Beijing, opening HSBC Business School branch in Oxford early 2018 with enrolment to start in June


  • Only 2 Chinese universities currently in world top 40, Peking University & Tsinghua University
  • University of Hong Kong is #43 in the world rankings


  • In 2016-17 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ca. 1,000 institutions were listed
  • Mainland China had 52 entries but only 7 in the top 400
  • South Korea had 9 universities in the top 400 despite having a fraction of the population (50 million compared with 1.3 billion)
  • Hong Kong (population 7 million) had 6 entries