Chinese employers rate graduates of foreign universities highly but fear that they are harder to manage and less loyal, a study suggests.
A survey of 350 employers that recruit overseas-educated Chinese graduates, published by the British Council on 6 December, found that 86 per cent of respondents felt that this international experience made job candidates more attractive.
Graduates of foreign universities were perceived as more highly skilled than graduates of Chinese institutions, and in particular were regarded as more creative and better at communicating.
However, 48 per cent of respondents said they felt that local graduates were easier to manage, and 44 per cent felt that they were more loyal. Only around one in five respondents rated foreign graduates highest on these issues.
In an interview, one employer said that students who had been overseas and interned with Western companies “may experience a culture gap with management when they return to China”.
Another interviewee highlighted the importance of respect for seniority and willingness to work extra hours to cement relationships with managers – something that she suggested foreign graduates may be less prepared to do.
Respondents also said that foreign graduates had higher salary expectations, and that this could be a drawback. Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) said that Chinese graduates of foreign universities were paid more, with nearly half (47 per cent) reporting a wage premium of 10-20 per cent, and more than a third (36 per cent) putting it at 20-30 per cent.
The report, released at the British Council’s international education services conference in Manchester, says that “overseas graduates are aware of their worth in the jobs market and willing to demand a premium for it”.
However, “there is some evidence that overseas graduates may have unrealistic salary expectations”, the report adds.
The report finds a positive attitude among employers towards UK universities, although respondents typically regarded US universities as the best.
“The survey…shows that employers’ attitudes towards UK universities are very positive overall, especially towards postgraduate programmes. Nonetheless, there is room for universities to do more to prepare returnees for the Chinese employment environment,” the report concludes.