More and more students from around the world are choosing China as their study destination. XINHUA
As graduates around the world prepared to begin their academic and professional careers in 2018, Kelley Reardon decided to step out of her comfort zone. She quit her new environmental consulting job in Boston and enrolled in a Chinese university, instead. “China is a huge economic powerhouse,” Reardon, 24, told China Daily. She has been studying for an International Master’s of Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University in Jiangsu province. “There’s so much potential for China to become a leader in environmental areas like renewable energy and climate action,” she said.
Reardon is one of almost 500,000 international students, from 196 different countries and regions, who studied in China in 2018, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Education recently. In 1995, that number was less than 40,000. Now, China is the third most popular student destination in the world, behind only the US and UK.
Where do they come from? South Korea ranked first in the number of students sent to China last year, with 50,600 students. Thailand followed with 28,608.
A Dec 11 report from the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Institute of International Education credited the rise with the “shift away from the long predominance of English-speaking countries in the higher education market.”
The Times Higher Education also noted that China’s lower tuition fees, plentiful scholarship opportunities and the rise of joint venture universities all combine to help attract students.
As Denis Simon, executive vice-chancellor of Duke Kunshan University told the Times, “Students who are now studying in the Asia-Pacific region have all sorts of career opportunities. They can use their knowledge of the East and the West, and they can learn new languages and new cultures.”
Zhou Mansheng, a senior researcher at the CCG, told CGTN that welcoming more international students is helpful for cultivating talent and building the country.
The report also highlighted that China’s well-established source of outgoing students and incoming international students are key elements of the Belt and Road Initiative. It also showed China’s focus on Africa. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of African students in China rose by almost 50,000.
The increase “reflects the expanding economic and business ties between China and African countries, as well as China’s commitment to providing scholarships to African students,” according to the report.