This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/30/2019


U.S. colleges and universities remain the preferred overseas destination for students from China. According to the Annual Report on Chinese Students’ Overseas studies, 43% of respondents named the U.S. as their preferred choice.  However, this was a 9% drop from the previous year.  According to the 2018 Open Doors Report, during the 2017-2018 academic year, 363,341 students from China studied in the U.S. This constitutes a 3.6% increase from the previous year – continued a trend of slowing growth. China remains the leading country of origin for the ninth year in a row, comprising 33.2% of all international students studying in the U.S. In 2018, Chinese students at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $12.55 billion to the U.S. economy.  The U.S. Department of Commerce, sees he education market in China as a top prospect for U.S. education services providers:
The U.S. continues to attract a growing number of undergraduate students from China with 18.1% (up 14.6% from last year) of recent graduates undertaking Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is a one-year employment opportunity directly related to a particular area of study through a student F1 Visa. In 2016-17, the breakdown of Chinese individuals studying in the U.S. was 40.9% undergraduate, 36% graduate students, and 7.7% other.
YearNumber of Students
From China to United States
% Change from Previous
Source: Institute of International Education
Chinese children are provided with nine years of free, compulsory education from elementary to junior high school.  On November 7, 2016, the National People’s Congress (NPC) revised the “Private Education Promotion Law,” banning private, for-profit schools from offering compulsory education to first- through ninth-graders.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Short-term training programs, technical schools, and workshops in specialized fields as well as business education are particularly popular in Chinese education. In December 2011, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) along with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) jointly released a revised edition of the Guiding Catalogue, on Foreign Investment in Industry, which added “training and vocational education” to the “encouraged” list of industries for foreign direct investment. The catalogue includes four categories:  "encouraged," "restricted," "prohibited," and "permitted". Therefore, U.S. educational organizations can also market teaching materials and equipment, convey the latest methodologies and case studies, exchange faculty, and provide educational consulting services.  In addition, Chinese high schools have created a significant number of international programs to promote study abroad opportunities for younger students.  College tours geared towards high school students, especially when paired with intensive English summer programs, is an emerging trend


The desire of Chinese students to enroll in U.S. institutions is high.  It is fueled by increasing disposable incomes and the prestige associated with attending well-known U.S. institutions.  Qualified Chinese students, exchange scholars, and their dependents also become eligible to receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years, which also supports demand for U.S. education.
U.S. institutions will have to remain active in the promotion of American education in China, since competition for Chinese students from other English-speaking countries has increased.  An expanded domestic education market has also created greater opportunities for students to pursue higher education without leaving China. This will continue as Chinese officials actively advocate for partnerships with foreign institutions that offer a “0+4” joint degree, meaning all academic work takes place in China but the degree obtained is valid in both China and the country of the partner institution.
Education technologies and e-learning products are also gaining traction through large-scale deployment and content digitization efforts in the various federal, provincial, and municipal school systems.  Other trends include high demand for English language learning, consumer demand for online test prep products, and increasing enrollment in online education.  One trend that is unique to China is the high demand for early childhood learning products, leading to the rapid adaption and implementation of e-learning solutions in early childhood. Also growing in popularity are community colleges with affordable tuition and 2+2 transfer agreements as a pathway to a four-year degree.

Education Events 

China International Education Exhibition:                       
China Education Expo:                                                           
Global Education Technology (GET) Conference:            
Global Education Summit:                                                  
China Education Innovation Expo China Early Childhood Education Conference & Early Childhood Education Resources Expo:                                                                                      

Web Resources

Ministry of Education, Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges
U.S. Commercial Service Contact for Education and Training Sector
Maggie Qiu, Commercial Specialist
(86-10) 8531-4157
U.S. Consulate in Shanghai
Lauren Liu, Commercial Specialist
(86-21) 6279 8221
U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
Veronica Liang, Commercial Specialist
(86 20) 3814 5630
U.S. Consulate in Chengdu
Mengyue Xu, Commercial Specialist
(86 28) 8598 6633
U.S. Consulate in Shenyang
Andrea Shen, Commercial Specialist
(86 24) 2322-1198 ext. 8140

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China Education Trade Development and Promotion