Universities seek greater enrollment from abroad

Updated: 2013-08-26 07:39

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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Universities seek greater enrollment from abroad

African students celebrate their graduation at Tianjin University of Technology and Education. More than 130 African students have graduated from the university since 2006. Li Xiang / Xinhua

Language barriers, career prospects and teaching facilities dent enthusiasm of international students considering studying in China, Yang Yang reports

Samuel Goldstein is spending his gap year in China. While the Washington University political science student still has a year to go before graduation, he has decided to apply for a master's degree course in Chinese.

But there is a twist in his plan. Instead of applying to a Chinese university, the 20-year-old wants to attend a satellite school of a US university in China, which he believes will guarantee the quality of education.

"Chinese education is not comparable with Western education. I am half-Swiss, so it's easy for me to go to Switzerland or any other European country to study, but economic growth is lower there and so there aren't as many opportunities in Europe as in China," he said.

"I am fascinated by Chinese culture and language and the economy offers a lot of opportunities."

China's culture and economy may attract overseas students, but the education system does not. And that's a big problem, because the government is trying to attract more foreign students as part of an internationalization strategy in an attempt to grab a slice of the international education market.

In 2011, there were approximately 4.3 million internationally mobile students in tertiary education worldwide, with 77,400 studying at colleges in China, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Chinese Ministry of Education reported a higher number, saying that the country played host to 119,000 overseas students in 2011, including 88,500 college and undergraduate students, 23,600 graduate students, and 6,900 postgraduates.

According to the ministry's action plan, China will host 500,000 international students at all levels by 2020, becoming the top Asian destination for overseas students. The number of overseas college and university students is expected to reach 150,000.

However, Darryl S.L. Jarvis, associate dean of research and postgraduate studies, and professor of global studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, doubts that China can be truly competitive in the international education market, even though the country, "is trying to achieve the goal via the development of English language programs and increasing the number of scholarships for overseas students to 50,000 by 2015".

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