China emerges as the No.1 study abroad destination in Asia
China has been successful in attracting a large number of international students from around the world. Source: Shutterstock

It’s official – China is Asia’s top country for overseas study.

According to WomenofChina, “In 2018, more than 492,000 international students from 196 countries came to China to study at 1,004 universities and colleges, scientific research institutes, and other educational agencies.”

Speaking at the 2019 graduation ceremony and fifth anniversary of the master’s programme for developing countries at Beijing Normal University (BNU), Liu Xiao, Deputy Director of the Division of Study in China, Department of International Cooperation and Exchange, Ministry of Education, told the crowd that China is the most popular destination to study abroad in Asia.

Last year, the Chinese government sponsored scholarships for around 63,000 international students to study in China, 90 percent of whom chose to pursue a diploma.

China has been an attractive destination for international students over the past few decades due to its rising economy, highly ranked academic programmes, diverse cities and government initiatives.

According to Asian Correspondent, “Over the past decade, China has dedicated itself to becoming a global leader. This has seen economic growth excel to a rate of 9.63 per annum, the number of people with a university education rise tenfold, and Chinese exports transforming from tangible goods to knowledge-based products.

“As the country has gained momentum, graduate prospects and a promise of a growing economy has begun attracting international students to study in China.”

While in the past, Beijing and Shanghai were the two most popular cities for international students, Times Higher Education notes that the growth of new cities is also a factor in attracting students from all over the globe.

“In 2006, nearly 50 percent of international students were in Beijing or Shanghai, but this has fallen to 32 per cent.

“Today, there are 13 cities across China with more than 10,000 international students, with seven cities having more than 20,000 students. Popular cities include Guangdong in the south of China and Liaoning, north of Beijing.”

The country’s elite universities are also steadily climbing world rankings. The latest QS World University Rankings showed that out of China’s 42 ranked universities, 32 have improved their academic performance.

The recent release of the 16th edition of the QS World University Rankings also revealed that the US recorded its worst performance in 16 years in terms of higher education.

This led to a recent report by South China Morning Post predicting that China could soon overtake the US as a ‘scientific research powerhouse’.

“It is painfully clear that the global academic community’s confidence in the US higher education system is diminishing, and diminishing rapidly. What is behind the precipitous drop in trust?

“This erosion of confidence has been compounded by a number of factors, including worsening international student ratios, relative to global peers, and evidence that America’s status as the leader in academic research is under threat from a very specific country. Predictably, the country is China.”

Besides its reputation as a research and education hub, many international students choose to study in the country because of its thriving economy and dynamic business environment.

Marie Rosszell, who used to study  global business at one of the world’s most international universities, University of Macau, China, said: “I chose UMacau because it is a vibrant and young university known for its geographic advantage, where we can best look at the gem of cultural legacies after two civilisations encountered each other over the course of 500 years.

“I am not only given opportunities to meet great people with a cross-cultural background, but I also know more of Macanese as well as Chinese business etiquettes and mentality, which will be very beneficial in terms of marketing strategy references.”

China also sends the highest number of local students abroad to study, due to its massive population and rising middle class who intend to pursue overseas study or jobs abroad.

According to statistics from China’s Ministry of Education, the number of Chinese who went abroad to study in 2018 was 662,100, while the number of returning Chinese students hit 519,000, up 39,000 from 2017.

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