The Impact of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on Chinese Students in Irish Higher Education Institutions

1. Introduction

The literature review addresses the issue with the aim of proposing management practices that would attract Chinese students to Irish higher education institutions. In particular, the study will focus on discussing the demand for formal education in China as well as the educational system in this country. Furthermore, the paper will provide an overview of the situation with Chinese students in Irish higher education institutions and analyze the impact of the global financial crisis on this group of international students. The research methodology section will include a description of the research design and data collection methods that were used in the study. Finally, the findings and analysis section will present and discuss the results of the study.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Higher Education in China

China has been investing heavily in its higher education system in recent years (Li, 2008). The number of higher education institutions has increased rapidly, and the country now has over 2,000 universities and colleges (Li, 2008). As a result of this expansion, there has been a significant increase in the number of students enrolled in higher education. In 2003, there were 5 million students enrolled in higher education institutions in China; by 2008, this number had increased to over 20 million (Li, 2008). The Chinese government has set a target of having 30% of the population aged 18-23 enrolled in higher education by 2020 (Li, 2008).
However, despite the rapid expansion of the higher education system in China, there are still many problems with the quality of education (Li, 2008). For example, many universities do not have adequate facilities or experienced faculty members (Li, 2008). In addition, there is a lack of funding for research, which has resulted in a decline in the quality of research being conducted at Chinese universities (Li, 2008). As a result of these problems, many Chinese students choose to study abroad. In 2007, there were over 200,000 Chinese students studying abroad (Li, 2008).
The majority of Chinese students choose to study in English-speaking countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia or Canada (Li, 2008). However, some students also choose to study in other countries such as Ireland.

2. 2 The Demand for Formal Education

There are several reasons why there is strong demand for formal education among Chinese citizens. First of all, education is seen as a way to improve one’s social status and economic prospects (Wang & Liu, 2011). In addition, many parents believe that getting a good education will help their children secure a good job and have a successful career (Wang & Liu, 2011). Furthermore, parents often see investment in their child’s education as a way to secure their future financial stability (Wang & Liu 2011). Another reason for the high demand for formal education is that competition for jobs is extremely fierce in China (Wang & Liu 2011). As a result, many people believe that having a good education is essential for getting a good job (Wang & Liu 2011).
The strong demand for formal education has resulted in an increase in the number of people enrolling in higher education. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people taking entrance exams for universities (Zhou et al., 2010). For example, between 2002 and 2006, the number of people taking entrance exams increased from 3 million to 6 million (Zhou et al., 2010). In addition, the pass rate for these exams has declined in recent years, which is another indication of the increase in demand for formal education (Zhou et al., 2010). The strong demand for formal education is also evident in the fact that many Chinese students choose to study abroad. As mentioned above, there were over 200,000 Chinese students studying abroad in 2007 (Li, 2008).

2. 3 The Educational System in China

The educational system in China is based on the principle of “9-3-4”, which refers to the nine years of compulsory education, three years of junior high school and four years of senior high school (Wang & Liu, 2011). After completing senior high school, students have the option of taking the entrance exam for university or enrolling in a vocational school.
The entrance exam for university, known as the gaokao, is extremely competitive (Wang & Liu, 2011). In order to get into a good university, students need to score well on this exam (Wang & Liu, 2011). The gaokao is a very stressful experience for many students, and the competition is so intense that some students choose to commit suicide (Wang & Liu, 2011).
In recent years, there have been calls for reform of the gaokao system (Wang & Liu, 2011). For example, some people believe that the exam should be abolished altogether and replaced with a system that assesses students based on their performance throughout their schooling career (Wang & Liu, 2011). Others believe that the gaokao should be kept but reformed so that it assesses students’ abilities more accurately (Wang & Liu, 2011).
The Chinese government has also implemented a number of initiatives to increase access to higher education. For example, in 1999, the government introduced a policy known as “Project 211”, which aimed to improve the quality of 100 universities so that they could compete with world-class institutions (Li, 2008). In addition, the government has also introduced policies to increase access to higher education for rural and minority groups (Li, 2008).
The number of women enrolling in higher education has also increased in recent years. In 2003, women made up 45% of all university students in China (Li, 2008). This figure had increased to 51% by 2008 (Li, 2008). The increase in female enrollment is partly due to initiatives by the Chinese government to increase access for women (Li, 2008).
Despite these initiatives by the Chinese government to increase access to higher education, there are still many problems with Equity of access. For example, rural and minority groups are still underrepresented in higher education (Li, 2008). In addition, tuition fees have been increasing in recent years which has made it more difficult for people from lower-income families to afford higher education (Li 2008). As a result of these problems with equity of access, many people believe that the current system favors those from wealthier backgrounds (Li 2008).

2. 4 The Chinese Students in Irish Higher Education Institutions

There are a number of reasons why Chinese students choose to study in Ireland. First of all, Ireland is seen as a safe and welcoming country for international students (Ministry of Education and Skills [MoES], 2017). In addition, Ireland offers a high-quality education which is internationally recognized (MoES, 2017). Furthermore, the cost of studying in Ireland is relatively low when compared to other countries such as the United States or United Kingdom (MoES, 2017).
The number of Chinese students studying in Ireland has been increasing in recent years. In 2010/11, there were 2,040 Chinese students enrolled in Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) (MoES, 2017). By 2016/17, this figure had increased to 4,360 (MoES, 2017). Currently, Chinese students make up the third largest group of international students in Ireland after students from the European Union and India (MoES, 2017).
The majority of Chinese students choose to study at postgraduate level. In 2016/17, 78% of Chinese students in Ireland were enrolled in postgraduate programs (MoES, 2017). The most popular fields of study for Chinese students are business (42%), science (17%) and engineering (15%) (MoES, 2017).
The increase in the number of Chinese students studying in Ireland is partly due to initiatives by the Irish government to attract more international students. For example, in 2012, the government introduced a new visa regime which made it easier for non-EU students to study in Ireland (MoES, 2017). In addition, the government has also invested heavily in marketing Ireland as a destination for international students (MoES, 2017).
Despite the increase in the number of Chinese students studying in Ireland, there are still some challenges with attracting and retaining this group of students. For example, many Chinese students are only interested in pursuing short-term programs such as English language courses or foundation programs (MoES, 2017). In addition, the number of Chinese students studying in Ireland is still relatively small when compared to other countries such as the United States or United Kingdom (MoES, 2017). As a result of these challenges, the Irish government has set a target of attracting 10% of all Chinese students studying abroad by 2025 (MoES, 2017).

2.5 The Impact of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on the Chinese Students in Irish Higher Education Institutions

The global financial crisis that began in 2008 had a significant impact on the Irish economy. The construction industry was particularly hard hit, and this had a knock-on effect on other sectors of the economy such as retail and tourism (National Economic and Social Council [NESC], 2009). As a result of the economic downturn, many people lost their jobs and emigration rates increased.
The global financial crisis also had an impact on the number of international students studying in Ireland. In the period between 2007/08 and 2009/10, there was a decrease of 20% in the number of international students studying at Irish HEIs (MoES, 2010). This decrease was mainly due to a decline in the number of students from European Union countries who were choosing to study in Ireland (MoES, 2010).
The decline in the number of international students during the global financial crisis had a significant impact on Irish universities and colleges. For example, Trinity College Dublin lost €7 million in revenue as a result of the decline in international student numbers (NESC, 2009). In addition, many HEIs were forced to make cuts to their budgets and reduce staff numbers (NESC, 2009).
Despite the decline in international student numbers during the global financial crisis, there was actually an increase in

FAQ

Chinese students are motivated to study in Ireland for a number of reasons, including the high quality of education on offer, the opportunity to learn English in an immersion environment, and the chance to experience Western culture.

Chinese students find out about Irish higher education institutions through a variety of channels, including word-of-mouth from friends and family, online research, and educational fairs.

The main challenges faced by Chinese students during their studies in Ireland include language barriers, cultural differences, and homesickness.

Chinese students adapt to life and study in Ireland by attending international student orientation programmes, making friends with local students, and getting involved in extracurricular activities.

There are some differences between the educational experiences of Chinese and other international students in Ireland, but overall they are positive experiences for all involved.

The impact of Chinese students on Irish higher education institutions is generally positive, as they bring diversity and contribute to the globalisation of the institution. However, there can be negative impacts as well, such as competition for resources or overcrowding on campus.