The majority of Chinese parents who plan to send their children to study abroad are senior-level leaders or higher from different industries and sectors, according to a white paper on overseas study published on Thursday.
The paper was released by Vision Overseas, a Beijing overseas study consultancy that is part of the New Oriental Education & Technology Group.
More than 700 parents who are considering sending their children abroad were surveyed. Forty-two per cent of the sample were senior leaders and 20 per cent were heads of companies, enterprises or organisations, indicating that many parents who want their children to study abroad have successful careers and the financial means for their children to do so.
The paper stated that the parents work for a wide range of industries and sectors, such as State-owned enterprises, private enterprises, joint ventures, government agencies and institutional organisations.
"Regardless of which field or sector they are working in, sending children to study abroad has become a consensus among the parents," the paper said.
Yu Zhongqiu, vice-president of Vision Overseas, said that despite the survey findings more working-class families in China are gaining the financial ability to support their children's studies overseas.
"Studying abroad is no longer a privilege of students from rich families," he said.
Chen Huqiong, director of the US division of Chivast Education International, another consultancy in Beijing, said working-class parents could afford the expense if their children want to pursue postgraduate study abroad. However, Chen said, parents should be well prepared in financial terms if their children are going abroad for high school or undergraduate education, which are longer and more costly than postgraduate programs.
"In these cases, parents are usually those who have higher career positions," she said.
Studying abroad has gained great popularity among Chinese students and their parents in recent years. Statistics from the Ministry of Education show 460,000 Chinese students studied abroad last year, while the number in 2000 was just 39,000.
The paper said only 5 per cent of the parents in the survey had studied abroad due to the period in which they grew up.
"Many of these parents were born in the 1960s or 1970s, and the opportunities to study abroad were scarce because of the social and economic conditions prevailing in China at the time they grew up," the paper said.