U.S. students losing interest in China as dream jobs prove elusive

Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:15pm EDT
 
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By Alexandra Harney

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - American students are getting cold feet about studying Chinese in China, with many study abroad programs in the country seeing a substantial drop in enrolment over the last few years.

At the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), student enrolment in programs in China is expected to be less than half the level it was only four years ago. Washington-based CET, another leading study abroad group, says interest in China has been falling since 2013.

The apparent waning of interest worries some China watchers. Given the importance of the U.S.-China relationship, having a group of Americans across different industries who speak Chinese and understand the culture is "a matter of national interest", says Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center in Washington.

"We can't respond coherently, effectively and fully to China unless we understand China on its own terms," he said.

The Institute of International Education says the number of U.S. students studying in China fell 3.2 percent in 2012-13 to 14,413, even as overall study abroad numbers rose modestly.

American students' apparent loss of interest contrasts with Chinese students' clamor for a U.S. education. The number of Chinese studying in the United States jumped 16.5 percent in 2013-14 to more than 274,000.

LESS NEED FOR FOREIGNERS   Continued...