Although China remains the top place of origin for international students, more and more foreigners are choosing to study in China. Of the more than 26 million people currently enrolled at Chinese universities, nearly 490,000 of them are from overseas.
Between 1978 and 2016, an estimated 4.5 million Chinese students helped swell the coffers at universities in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and beyond. However, it seems the times are changing, as China is now only behind the US and the UK in terms of the number of international students it hosts at its university campuses. If China remains on course that raise its number of foreign students to 500,000 by 2020, it will also overtake the UK to claim second place.
The number of international students in China has increased by 299 percent since 2004, according to the Ministry of Education. Much of this growth has been attributed to President Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which is working to reconnect countries along the ancient Silk Road.
Indeed, the number of foreign students from Pakistan, Thailand, Laos, India and Indonesia — all countries benefitting from the OBOR initiative — increased by an average of 20 percent from 2016 to 2017. It is thought that a bump in jobs and wealth in these countries has given more young people the means and motivation to study in China.
The number of Africans studying in China has also increased more than 25-fold to around 50,000 in 2015, the Unesco Institute for Statistics reports, putting China second only to France for attracting the world’s highest number of African students.
Even recruits from countries with more established secondary education institutions are on the up, with twice as many US students choosing to study in China in 2015 compared to 2005. The number of students from the UK has tripled in the same time period, with the Student World exhibition in Manchester and London this year seeing representatives from 36 Chinese universities attending, compared to just one for the previous two years.
One of the biggest drivers is thought to be the increase of university courses taught in English in China, with study options for foreigners now covering nearly all subjects. While the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank reported that more than 40 percent of foreign students in China were studying Mandarin in 2016, this is a drop of 12 percent from 2012.
As tuition fees soar across most of the Western world, the relative affordability of Chinese universities is also likely a factor, and some 58,600 international students went a step further and received government-sponsored scholarships in 2017.
Beijing hopes to both encourage more foreigners to study in China and persuade them to stay after graduation in a bid to increase the country’s “soft power”.
Last year, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced that any foreigner with a masters degree or higher from a Chinese university would be eligible to apply for a five-year work permit on graduation. Meanwhile, Shanghai’s Science Innovation Center has offered two-year residence permits for students wanting to work or take an internship after their studies.
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Keywords: study in china
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what is it with China calling people foreigners. How about this "more INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS are attending Chinese Universities than ever before." The person who came up with the original headline is a racist. 'Foreign' is not a word that should be used to describe university students, pal.
Sep 11, 2018 13:51 Report Abuse
It's definitely possible to make the case that the numbers might be padded or somewhat overstated. But it's also worth mentioning that Chinese universities are not actively promoting themselves to the Western higher-education market, and probably never will. Indeed, China is ever so increasingly focusing more on promoting themselves to countries along the OBOR and the African continent, rather than the West. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that, as we have clearly shown little love for the Chinese way of doing things over the years. So why bother with us?
Sep 06, 2018 16:12 Report Abuse
I respectfully disagree with this comment. Mainland China’s universities do not count Hong Kong, Xinjiang or Tibet students as international students. They have a special category (港澳台) for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan students. These students have a different passport than Mainland students, hence the different category. In the case of students from Xinjiang, Tibet or any other of the Autonomous Regions, Mainland China’s universities do not count them as international students since they do not have a foreign passport.
Oct 08, 2018 09:04 Report Abuse