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Internationalizing education

Sunday,Jan 22, 2017

From: Global Times


Foreign job seekers attend a job fair in Beijing, November of 2016. Photos: Li Sanxian


New policy encourages more young foreigners studying in China to stay for work


Foreign students who receive a master’s degree from a Chinese university and several prestigious international universities are now eligible to receive a work permit and employment licenses in China without the previous requirement of at least two years of work experience. A joint statement outlining the new policy, which began in January, was issued by the Ministry of EducationMinistry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

According to the statement, qualified students must be at least 18 years old, pass a health check, possess a clean criminal record, received a master’s or higher here less than one year prior and have a grade average of at least 80 percent. Moreover, these foreign students must only accept jobs that match their academic specialties. Employment licenses for foreign graduates are valid for one year, with additional licenses being valid for up to five years.

On its way to becoming the engine of our world economy, China has been attracting a growing number of young foreigners to pursue their studies and subsequent careers here. Shanghai in particular is leading the way, with the greatest concentration of top-tier universities, a new innovation and start-up-friendly hub, free trade zones and a large expatriate community.

George Xu, CEO and founder of eChinaJOBs, a site in China for English-speaking job seekers with over 300,000 registered users, told the Global Times that among the tens of thousands of young foreigners now coming to China to study, many intend on staying to pursue their respective professions.

Sugaya Yamato, a Japanese national majoring in law at Shanghai Fudan University, told the Global Times that she is optimistic about her future in China’s job market, though there are still some loopholes needing to be addressed.

"Public opinion of China’s employment sector has shifted much over the past couple of years, which suggests the Chinese market might be much more flexible now. So I think China is likely to internationalize further," Sugaya Yamato said, adding that she is currently interviewing with local law firms that can offer legitimate, full-time positions.

Under the country’s current policy regarding the employment of foreigners, there are indeed still many challenges facing young international job seekers in China.

Xu told the Global Times that the ultimate hurdle is that most foreign students in China who are either enrolled in a language program or have a bachelor’s degree are not qualified for legal employment under the current policy.

"Out of the large percentage of young foreigners aged between 22 and 30 in China, there is only a very small fraction (maybe less than 3 percent) enrolled in master’s or higher education programs here," Xu said.

Furthermore, the flexibility to choose a career they desire is limited. Xu noted that a majority (about 85 percent) of young foreigners in China have said outright that they do not want to be an English teacher, which historically has been the fallback income for uneducated or unqualified Westerners in China. As the Chinese government only recognizes applicants from the six native English-speaking countries as officially eligible for English teaching, however, many foreign students in China are ineligible for that profession.

The hiring process in China is also quite complicated. According to the China Youth Daily, during a job fair for foreigners held last April in Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin, only five out of 30 undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral international students from Tianjin University reached agreements with recruiters.

Turgay Ishakoglu, a Turkish undergraduate student at Fudan University, told the Global Times that he would also pursue a master’s degree in Shanghai but that he felt confused why foreigners who receive a bachelor’s from a Chinese university are not legally allowed to work in China.

"They spend four years studying with Chinese classmates, taking the exact same exams and becoming fluent in Chinese, which allows them to integrate easily into China’s work environment. Their mother language and connections from their home country are also an advantage for local employers," he said. "But once they graduate they are either kicked out or have to keep studying."

Disproportionate figures

"The new policy will undoubtedly eliminate obstacles for international students studying in China and reduce the loss of foreign talent," Wang Huiyao, director of Center for China and Globalization(CCG), told China News Service, which reported that, based on UN and other census statistics, China’s expat population is only about 0.04 percent.

The global average ratio of legal migrant workers is 3 percent, with developed countries averaging more than 10 percent and emerging nations only 1.6 percent. Meanwhile, India’s proportion of expatriates recently reached 0.6 percent, despite its large population.

According to data released by the Ministry of Education in 2015, there were 390,000 foreign students in China and 520,000 Chinese students studying abroad, which by all accounts is quite disproportionate. Miao Lü, secretary general of Center for China and Globalization, told China News Service that "the new policy will greatly promote young foreigners studying in China."

The article is written by Zhong Wenxing


From Global Times,2017-1-19