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80% returned in 2016, most pursue engineering, sciences

More than 80 percent of Chinese students returned to the country after completing their studies abroad, and the country has sent 544,500 students in 2016 to study abroad.

China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) said at a news conference Wednesday that most of the world’s foreign students who study abroad are from China.

Over 90 percent of them attended schools in English-speaking countries, such as the US, the UK and Australia, and over 70 percent pursue at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the MOE.

It also said 98 percent of government-sponsored students returned to China. Government-sponsored students who study abroad have chosen to pursue disciplines most needed in China, including engineering, the pure sciences, agriculture and medical science.

The government-sponsored students have signed an agreement that says they are required to reimburse the government if they do not return home after completing their studies, said Xiong Binqi, vice president of 21st Century Education Research Institute.

These students will have better opportunities if they return to China since the disciplines they pursued are needed in China, said Xiong.

China is trying to attract more students with an international background because of the country’s involvement in global cooperation, said Miao Lü, secretary general of the Center for China and Globalization. She added that because of economic conditions and anti-immigration sentiment in some Western countries, many Chinese students find it difficult to stay in those countries.

"Moreover, most Chinese families only have one child, so many of us return to China because we want to stay close to our family and friends," said a student surnamed Su, who gave up his job in the UK and returned to take care of his mother in China.

A total of 4.04 million Chinese students have studied abroad as of the end of 2015, according to a report issued by the MOE in 2016.

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