- Posted by Daniel Meesak
- On 3rd September 2015
- arlt, china, cotri, interview, tourism
The director of COTRI, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, Professor Wolfgang Georg Arlt, was interviewed by China Radio International about the increasing number of Chinese elementary school children studying overseas and offered his insight on the topic.
Professor Arlt described this trend as a part of the more general wave of outbound tourism from China, and that sending children to study abroad has become a normal consumption pattern for the growing group of affluent Chinese. Another important aspect is the well-known one-child policy, which has resulted in Chinese parents investing a lot of money in the education and development of their only child. In response to the question if the relaxation of the one-child policy will influence this trend, Professor Arlt argues that it is unlikely to change this trend, as there are still many people with no children or only one child, and that it is still economically difficult to have more than one child for parents in China. Professor Arlt also argues that another important reason behind the growing trend is that perceptions matter, and that Chinese people have gotten confident that it is indeed not dangerous to send their children to study abroad.
In regards to the question if sending young children abroad for studies is necessary for their education, or just another type of travel abroad, Professor Arlt says that it is not necessarily beneficial for the children’s formal education, but that it can be rewarding for cultural exchange and learning English. It is also pointed out that this type of exchange is very common in Europe, well-accepted as beneficial to children as they get a wider view of the world, and is also supported by the European Union and other government programs. It is emphasized that it is important that the program is not in a school or at a summer camp where there are only Chinese students, but that it is organized in a way that allows a mixed group of students from different countries. However, Professor Arlt says that on a personal note, he believes that such study tours are mostly useful for children at least 13-14 years of age, and that it may be difficult for younger children to face such unfamiliar environments and being away from their parents for longer periods of time.
As for how such tours are perceived by the local population, Professor Arlt describes it as perceived as part of the larger outbound tourism wave, and that Chinese schoolchildren are part of the growing number of Chinese people coming to Western countries. It is also described as an economically beneficial trend for organizers and businesses alike, and many Western people are astonished by how much buying power many of the young Chinese customers have. Indeed, many of the students come from rich families, but the fact that many of the goods are more affordable in Europe than they are at home in China also results in increased demand for local goods.
Listen to the interview here