China’s New Tide of Reverse Migration
York Centre for Asian Research

18 September 2018
2 – 4 pm: Room 857, Eighth Floor, Kaneff Tower 4700 Keele St North York, ON M3J 3T8 Canada

The number of Mainland Chinese students returning from abroad has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2017, 608,000 students went abroad and 480,900 returned, yielding a return rate of 79 percent. In 1987, the return rate was five percent and in 2007 was 30.6 per cent.
Why this turnaround? The largest group of students coming back get an MA degree – in 2015, 80.5 percent of returnees were MA students – whose chances of succeeding abroad are not that great. Their major goal is to enhance their resumes for their job search back in China rather than seek a new life abroad. But our research shows that to succeed upon returning, young people need to select the right field or major, affording opportunities back in a changing China, and some work experience abroad.
A recent questionnaire by the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG) that was posted on the website of Zhaopin, a job placement firm in China, yielded 1,700 responses. We looked at seven aspects of students’ decision to return: the time it took to find a job, how satisfied they were with their job and their lives after returning, whether the cost of studying abroad was greater than the benefits, how many years it would take to recoup the investment in their education, their actual income, and whether it was below their expectations. We found that the reason for returning—seeking opportunities back home, a sense of failure abroad, need to be near family or the draw of Chinese culture—greatly affects their life upon returning.