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Here's why Chinese parents are getting their kids enrolled in Southeast Asian schools

BeijingEdited By: Anamica SinghUpdated: Oct 08, 2022, 06:30 PM IST
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School campus shot of Tenby Schools Penang, Malaysia offering both British & Malaysian curriculum. Photograph:(Others)

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There are international schools in Southeast Asia that are affiliated to a number of well-known Western universities. They provide students with K-12 education focusing on the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB is a qualified programme that opens doors to higher education worldwide. 

More and more Chinese parents are eyeing schools in Malaysia and Singapore. The reason? They don't want their kids to go through highly competitive university entrance exam in future which leads to a rat race that doesn't lead them anywhere eventually. These parents also want to open up more options for their kids to join a Western university, SCMP reported quoting some such parents.

In a bid to make educational opportunities available to their children, many middle-class families in China are moving abroad. There are international schools in Southeast Asia that are affiliated to a number of well-known Western universities. They provide students with K-12 education focusing on the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB is a qualified programme that opens doors to higher education worldwide.

“Almost all Chinese families consulting us are aiming for admission to Western universities,” Jenson Zhang, founder of Vision Education, a Chiang Mai-based agency connecting Chinese students to international schools in Thailand, told SCMP. 

Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have emerged as favourites among most Chinese parents who are looking beyond the US and Canada. One such parent told SCMP that she chose Malaysia for its “affordability and geographical proximity to China”. Besides, the IB programme will help her child later get admission to universities in Britain, Australia and Canada.

Meanwhile, the attraction for US universities is on the decline in China, primarily because of the geopolitical tensions between the two countries. Quality of education and personal safety were the primary considerations when choosing a foreign institute for secondary or tertiary level education for their kids. 

The number of US visas issued to Chinese nationals saw a dip in the first half of 2022 mainly due to the current environment. Only 31,055 F-1 student visas were issued, down from 64,261 for the same period in 2019. 

Meanwhile, interest in Southeast Asian destinations has seen an uptick. Data shows that 19,202 Chinese students applied to study in Malaysia in 2021, a sharp rise of more than 150 per cent from only 8,876 applicants the year before. Cheaper school fees in these regions is a major driving force.

(With inputs from agencies)