How many Mainland Chinese uni students stay on?
From the age profile of Chinese born in China in a previous post you can see how significant student ministry is. But a common question is: how many of those students are likely to return to China in the next few years, and how many are going to remain in Australia? Obviously this changes a lot given the relative strength of the Australian dollar, immigration policy and labour market trends. But the 2006 and 2011 census gives us a useful snapshot of exactly how many people stayed and departed…
Here is the age profile of Chinese people in Australia who were born in China – both at the 2006 census (green line) and the 2011 census (red line). Click on the graph for a larger version.
But how many of those from 2006 actually stayed on in Australia? Did the majority return to China? or did the majority stay on in Australia, finding jobs and establishing a new life here? This is significant for those doing student ministry and returnees ministry among the Mainland Chinese.
One of the census questions relates to year of migration in Australia. And from that, we can work out how many Mainland Chinese people were around five years ago at the last census.
First off, here is a graph showing the age profile of Mainland Chinese at 2011 (represented in the red line above). But it shows which of them migrated in the last five years (red bar), which of them were here before that time (green bar). Click on the graph for a larger version.
Here is the age profile of Chinese people born in China from 2006 (represented in the green line in the first graph). And what we can work out is how many of them departed Australia during the subsequent five years to the 2011 census (red bar), and how many stayed on (green bar). Click on the graph for a larger version.
From this we can work out, for each age group, what proportion of the Chinese in 2006 stayed on in Australia during the subsequent five years, and what proportion of them departed (either through emigration … or death). Click for larger version.
While it looks pretty dramatic to the left and right of the graph, that is only dealing with small overall figures. The large bulk are in the 20′s, and in this next graph I’ve zoomed in on the 16-25 age bracket (age at the 2006 census). This is the age group that’s of interest when we’re talking about uni students.
The percentage varies a little for each age bracket – but from this you can see that of the group of 18-year old Mainland Chinese students in 2006, only 26% of them had departed Australia five years later, while a huge 74% of them still resided in Australia at the 2011 census.
Partly this is due to the fact that the majority of Mainland Chinese students takes what the AEI calls a “multi-sector pathway” of study during their time in Australia (see previous post) and so will generally do more than just a standard three-year undergraduate degree. However you can see that even students who were a little older (and presumably further through their “multi-sector” course of study) still end up with about 30% of their group departing.
Bear in mind that what we are seeing here is only a snapshot of the situation between two particular points in time (2006 and 2011), and that what will happen with today’s Mainland Chinese students may be quite different.
But this is still a surprising result, given that many have expected that much higher numbers of students would return overseas after several years of study. In contrast, the figures show that about only about 28% departed by the time the next census came around!
Note: for more detail and implications for ministry, see post on this other website.