More students in China can afford to pursue their studies overseas for growing incomes from the country's economic development when being back home. While many are heading abroad, the country has also seen a rising number of overseas returnees in recent years.
According to the Ministry of Education, over 350,000 students with foreign degrees returned to China in 2013, a 30 percent surge compared with the previous year. Over 91 percent of the returnees are aged between 23 and 32 with over 90 percent of them financially supported by themselves or families.
Among the returning students, over 60 percent received their master’s degree, while around six percent graduated with doctorate. The ministry report says it has become more difficult for many Bachelor’s and Master’s holders to find employment due to the sheer number of these graduates.
Mr. Nie worked in China for over five years, before going to the UK to study for a Master’s degree. Now he has graduated, Nie is struggling to find a job in Britain or in China.
"Companies in Britain don’t recognize my work experience in China, and there are not many job openings because of the recession in Europe. On the other hand, competition in China is also fierce. I can’t even get my old job back." Mr. Nie said.
Nie is not only one struggling to get a good job after studying abroad. A recent job fair in Beijing for overseas graduates attracted some 3,000 people. Many of them had to wait in a long queue just to get in.
"I took an overnight train from Zhengzhou and arrived 5 a.m. this morning just for this job fair. Before I went abroad, I thought it would be easier to find a good job as I have an overseas degree, but now I've been job-hunting for five months." Overseas returnee Mr. Zhang said.
One of the reason why these overseas returnees are struggling to find a job, is timing.
"In China, the peak season for recruitment is around Autumn, as most students in domestic universities graduate in June. I got my degree from Australia in January, so when I came back, the good positions were already taken." Overseas returnee Mr. Sun said.
Another factor is the clash between high expectations and harsh reality.
"I want to work in an international company, because I got my degree and work experience in the US." A overseas returnee said.
"My priority is German firms. Because I studied in Germany." A overseas returnee said.
According to a recruitment website, almost 60 percent of overseas returnees want to work in foreign companies or joint ventures, but only around 20 percent achieve that.
"Many private enterprises are developing very fast now. And they offer more job opportunities and promotion prospects. The graduates shouldn’t pin all their hopes on foreign companies or joint ventures.” Guo Sheng, CEO of Zhaopin.com, said.
Many overseas returnees also want higher salaries because they have spent hundreds of thousands of yuan to study abroad. For many, that seems to be an unrealistic demand.