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### Chinese Students Seeking Overseas Education Look Beyond the U.S.

In Shanghai, China, two young women who were considering studying abroad have opted out of choosing the United States as their destination, a popular choice that may be losing its appeal in recent times.

Helen Dong, a 22-year-old senior majoring in advertising, decided against the U.S. due to the high costs involved. She expressed concerns about spending a significant amount of money, approximately 2 million yuan ($278,000), without the guarantee of finding employment upon her return. Consequently, Ms. Dong has chosen to pursue her studies in Hong Kong starting this fall.

On the other hand, Yvonne Wong, a 24-year-old currently pursuing a master’s degree in comparative literature and cultures at the University of Bristol in the U.K., was not deterred by costs but rather by safety concerns. She highlighted that families in Shanghai are apprehensive about sending their daughters to a country where firearms are prevalent, citing safety as the primary factor in her decision-making process. Comparing the U.S. and the U.K., Ms. Wong emphasized that the U.K. is perceived as a safer option, aligning with her parents’ priorities.

The interest in studying abroad is experiencing a resurgence post-pandemic, yet there are indications that the longstanding trend of sending millions of Chinese students to the U.S., including top talents, may be on the decline. This shift is influenced by evolving geopolitical dynamics reshaping U.S.-China relations.

The reduction in international education exchanges could have enduring implications for the relationship between the two nations. Fanta Aw, the executive director of the NAFSA Association of International Educators in Washington, emphasized the role of international education as a crucial bridge for fostering future leaders in various fields. She underscored the significance of nurturing strong ties between nations through educational exchanges, emphasizing the pivotal role of students in shaping future collaborations.

The decline in Chinese students enrolling in U.S. undergraduate programs is attributed to multiple factors such as declining birth rates in China, strained bilateral relations, increased educational options regionally, and the escalating costs of pursuing education in the U.S. This trend is also noticeable in graduate programs, as observed by Zheng Yi, an associate professor at Northeastern University, who noted a substantial decrease in Chinese applicants post-pandemic.

Andrew Chen, the CEO of WholeRen Education in Pittsburgh, highlighted that the downward trajectory in Chinese student enrollment in the U.S. is not a transient phase but indicative of a broader shift. Factors contributing to this trend include China’s emphasis on domestic education, concerns over safety in the U.S., and a narrative portraying the U.S. as a diminishing global power.

Amidst these developments, Beijing has criticized the U.S. for its restrictive policies towards Chinese students, citing measures implemented by the previous administration under Donald Trump. The Chinese government has raised objections to the treatment of Chinese students at U.S. airports and perceived discriminatory practices, leading to diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

In conclusion, the evolving landscape of international education underscores the complex interplay of geopolitical, economic, and social factors shaping the choices and opportunities available to students seeking educational experiences abroad.