Studenti cinesi in Italia

Less Chinese students in Italy?

Are there less Chinese students in Italy today than there were in the last years?

News is spreading about relevant numbers of Chinese prospective students cancelling their plans to study abroad for the next academic year.

Research by the British Council claims up to 39% of admitted students are unsure about cancelling their plans.

In Australia, where international student represents the 3rd GDP voice, HEIs estimate an overall decline in revenues will be between $3bn and $4.6bn, the Guardian reports (

So how’s the situation in Italy? Will be there less Chinese students if compared to the previous intakes?

The numbers of Chinese nationals and Chinese students in Italy


As known, China is still the first sender of international students to Italy. Parallel, there are more than 300,000 Chinese nationals permanently living in Italy today.

Fact is, Chinese students moving to Italy for a degree are more qualified than before. This, at least until the 2019 intake.

As reported by Italian financial newspaper “Sole-24 Ore“, “Until a few years ago, a Chinese student could come to Italy without specific qualifications […]”.  Today they have strong skills, including a score of at least 400 points out of 750 in the very challenging Gaokao National Exams”.

The Gaokao is a crucial academic exam held annually and is considered necessary to access higher education in China. It is estimated that 10 million students supported this year’s Gaokao held in June 2019.

We are of course talking about a country (China) where the virus first appeared, and a country (Italy) where it first spread in Europe – and where the situation is far from being normalised, with lockdown still in force, university premises locked down as well.


What is the ongoing trend?


In 2018, before the pandemic emergency, Italy’s overall inward movement was already somehow anaemic, with substantially no growth (check here for further details).

On a yearly basis, some 2,400 Chinese students enrol in Italian HEIs. So even if we consider a 50% decrease of the Chinese cohort, we’re talking about 1,200 less Chinese students in Italy for the 2020 intake.


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