China third most-popular nation for international students

Updated: 2015-11-17 12:11

By Zhang Yue in Washington(China Daily USA)

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China third most-popular nation for international students

Safadi Alaa from Belgium listens to a lecture during the opening of the summer camp organized by Beijing Foreign Studies University and Hanban on Sunday. Zhu Xingxin/for China Daily

China is now the third most-popular country for international students, according to a report.

The number of students from other countries studying in the Chinese mainland for the academic year 2014-2015 was 377,054. The United States was No 1, followed by the UK, according to the Open Doors Report 2015 released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington on Monday.

"When it comes to the third-largest overseas students destination, it is actually very surprising," said Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor to the president of the IIE at a briefing about the report. "In previous years, it might be European countries, such as Germany and France."

She said that the survey also showed that China is the fifth most popular country chosen by US students for studying abroad.

Why China is becoming more attractive for international students to study there can be attributed to different reasons other than the country's high quality of education, said Blumenthal.

She said one reason is that more and more US universities are setting up branches in China, such as Duke Kunshan University and New York University Shanghai, attracting students from around the world.

China third most-popular nation for international students

Yet Blumenthal said she does not think China is likely to surpass the US in attracting international students.

"The students who come to study in China do not plan to further their education in the US anyway," she said. "Our survey found that the biggest component of international students studying in China come from South Korea and Japan. And the reason for them coming to study in China is because of the future demand in trade, and they want to improve their Mandarin."

Allan Goodman, president of IIE, said that he believes such programs as the previous 100,000 Strong Initiative launched by President Barack Obama when he visited China in 2009, with a goal of sending 100,000 American students to China in the following four years, and this year's Schwarzman Scholars program sponsored by Stephen Schwartzman, the chairman and CEO of the New York-based Blackstone Group, at Tsinghua University, make China attractive.

The report also shows that the number of US students studying in the Chinese mainland for the academic year 2014-2015 dropped by 5 percent compared with the previous year.

"We are not sure about the reason for the decrease yet," said Blumenthal. "One possible factor is that students rotate on semesters so they happen to be not in China in the past year. Another reason we have heard is that some US parents worry about the air pollution in China."

Despite the decline of US students studying in China, the US still attracts the largest number of international students.