216,000 Chinese Students Choose UK for Higher Education Due to Visa Restrictions in US

Nearly 216,000 Chinese students are currently pursuing studies in the United Kingdom, becoming the largest group of international students in the country, the Chinese Embassy in the UK has revealed.

Due to visa delays, Chinese students have been unable to pursue higher education in the US; therefore, the latter are expressing more interest to study in Europe instead of the United States.

According to statistics issued by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, since the 2012/13 academic year, the number of students from China in the UK has surpassed the number of students from all EU countries, and it continues to increase, exceeding 100,000 during 2019/20 academic year.

The professor of the School of International Studies, Peking University, Jia Guoqing, said that there is still work to be done before the US decides to fully remove restrictions on Chinese student visas.

“Even though the US began to ease the visa restrictions on Chinese students earlier this month, (former US president) Donald Trump still had both a long and negative impact on its China policy, which has made it harder for the Biden administration to turn the tables,” Guoqing told the Global Times.

Guoqing further said that the US is suspicious about Chinese students, listing them as “potential spies,” for which reason it has imposed visa restrictions, in particular for those applying for majors such as high-tech areas. According to analysts, this could be one of the reasons pushing students from China to consider other study destinations, especially the United Kingdom.

Regarding the China-UK relations, the director of the Center for American Studies at the Renmin University of China, Shi Yinhong, said that as the relations between two countries continue to deteriorate, the UK does not want to end exchanges with China on a cultural level, emphasizing that Chinese students remain an important source of income for UK’s education sector.

The Annual Report on the Development of Chinese Students Studying Abroad (2020-21) from the Center for China and Globalization released in March pointed out that Chinese students aiming to study abroad have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Yet, there is still strong interest among these students to pursue studies abroad.

Despite Chinese students being allowed to enter the UK, the Chinese Embassy has reminded international students to take measures due to the prevalence of race crimes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as due to the fact that the UK blames China for Xinjiang issues.

Most recently, the US State Department announced that international students from China, Brazil, Iran, and South Africa, who hold proper visas would be permitted to enter the United States this fall.

Back in September 2020, the United States canceled the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers, claiming that the latter pose a threat to national security.

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