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Record numbers of students choosing China for study abroad

Staff Writer |
A new report reveals that the perception of China among international students has undergone a noticeable shift, with the country becoming a hotbed for international study.

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Research gathered by Student.com, the world's leading marketplace for overseas student accommodation, highlights that international students are increasingly choosing to go to China to study for a full degree.

Over the last ten years, the number of international students in China has more than doubled.

Growing faster than the international student population of any other leading destination, China has become the third-largest destination country behind the U.S. and the UK for international students worldwide.

The most popular destinations for international students:

1. USA; 974,926 international students in 2015
2. UK; 436,880
3. China; 397,635
4. Canada; 336,497
5. Germany; 321,569

Despite a recent slowdown, China is seeing faster growth than the world's two leading destinations, the USA and the UK.

If last year's growth rates in the UK and China continue then China will challenge the UK's position as the world's second most popular destination for international students by 2020.

Student.com's research also shows that, of the 397,635 international students studying in China in 2015, 10,436 were French; equivalent to 3% of all international students in the country and an increase of more than 6,500 compared to 2006.

Student.com's report analyses collated data from official bodies, administrative organisations and educational institutions for the first time, identifying the trends behind China's rise in popularity with international students.

While China is seeing a steady increase in international student numbers, the strongest growth has been among degree-seeking students, whose share has increased from 34% to 46% in the past three years.

Similarly, among this group, the strongest growth in enrolment is at the post-graduate and doctorate levels, suggesting that China is becoming a more attractive research environment.

The international standing of Chinese universities has also improved dramatically over the past five years, with the number of Chinese universities included in major global university rankings rising significantly.

This is a key factor in China's ability to compete with other top university destinations such as the USA, UK, France and Germany.

The report also shows the extent to which the Chinese government has fostered this development, both by improving the quality of higher education across the country and by increasing the number of scholarship programs for degree-seeking full-time students: in 2015, 40% of all international students new to China received government sponsorship.

The Student.com report concludes that China's international student population is only set to increase further.

Currently international students only make up only 1.1% of the total student population in China, a much smaller percentage than in the other top six destinations


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