Chinese students who have completed their studies overseas are showing a greater inclination to return to the Chinese mainland and work there, as per a recent report by recruitment portal Zhaopin. The report suggests that this is primarily due to the more convenient living conditions and identification with the culture. In addition, the optimization of COVID-19 control policies has also contributed to the promising career prospects that await these returning graduates.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the number of Chinese students who graduated overseas and returned to China to seek employment has continuously increased. In 2022, the number reached a high, and in 2021 alone, approximately 1.05 million graduates returned to the mainland for work, representing a twofold increase from 2020, according to the Ministry of Education.
To gain a better understanding of the reasons behind this trend, Zhaopin conducted a survey of graduates who returned to China, which found that about 58 percent of them decided to come back because they preferred the more convenient living environment. Meanwhile, 40 percent of respondents said that they identified with the Chinese culture, which played a significant role in their decision.
The optimized COVID-19 control policies have also contributed to this trend. Chinese students who have graduated overseas now have greater confidence in the nation’s economic development in the near future, and they believe that there are more job opportunities available on the mainland. This increased confidence has given them the necessary impetus to return to China, where they can utilize their newly acquired skills and knowledge to contribute to the development of the country.
The convenient living environment, cultural identification, and promising career prospects have become key factors in the decision of Chinese students who have graduated overseas to return to their homeland. As the COVID control policies in the nation have been optimized, there has been a surge in demand for overseas graduate returnees. During the first week after the Spring Festival holiday, from Jan 30 to Feb 3, vacancies that gave priority to overseas returnees in sectors such as education, consultancy services, and e-commerce increased by 11 percent compared to the previous week, as per Zhaopin.
Zhaopin, the leading career platform in China, reported that the vacancies prioritizing overseas returnees in sectors such as education, consultancy services, and e-commerce increased during the first week of February. This surge in demand is also due to the increase in recruitment salaries being offered, which is attracting overseas returnees. The report stated that the average recruitment salary for these vacancies was 14,680 yuan ($2,151) per month in 2022, which is a 7 percent increase from the previous year.
Li Ying, a 25-year-old postgraduate student in the United Kingdom, stated that she is considering returning to China for work because she is more optimistic about China’s economy in the next three to five years. She added that the culture and interpersonal relationships are also crucial elements that attract her to China. Although she has friends in the UK, she sometimes feels nostalgic and misses the culture and people in China.
Li further revealed that she has plans for a teaching career or working in a job with flexible hours in China. The increase in demand for overseas returnees has created various opportunities for people like Li, who are looking for flexible job opportunities and a favorable work culture. The surge in demand is a result of the nation’s optimized COVID control policies, which have made it easier for overseas returnees to work in China.
Many Chinese graduates from overseas are considering taking a gap year and doing flexible jobs to find the sector they are truly interested in. Despite this uncertainty, one thing is sure: they plan to return to China for a job. To attract more Chinese graduates from overseas, governments at all levels have introduced supportive policies in recent years.
One example of these supportive policies is the housing policy launched by the Hongkou district in Shanghai in 2021. This policy allows returning Chinese students to enjoy a six-month rental allowance within two years of gaining an overseas postgraduate degree. The rental allowance ranges from 1,500 yuan to 3,000 yuan a month. Such policies have made it easier for overseas returnees to settle back into their home country and find work.
Zhu Jiaying, a member of the Hainan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has proposed that Hainan build a talent pool of overseas returnees through supportive policies and allowances. She suggests that the province should first develop a detailed strategy to attract overseas students and give them preferential tax treatment. Such policies would encourage more overseas graduates to return to China and contribute to the nation’s development.
Zhaopin, the leading recruitment portal in China, predicts that the recovery of the nation’s economy after the optimization of the COVID policy will bring more job opportunities to overseas returnees this year. Returnee graduates will have a better chance of landing a job at home because of their international outlook and the availability of more channels providing employment information. This is an encouraging sign for those who are considering returning to China for work.
The introduction of supportive policies, such as housing and tax allowances, and the availability of more job opportunities have made it easier for overseas returnees to find work in China. This has led to a surge in demand for such returnees in sectors such as education, consultancy services, and e-commerce. It is hoped that the nation’s continued efforts to attract and retain talent will contribute to its long-term economic growth and development.