China is emerging as a popular destination for overseas students, with their numbers on the rise in the last three years, the People's Daily reported on Tuesday.
A total of 195,000 students from 188 countries and regions came to study at 544 Chinese universities, colleges and research institutes in 2007, said the Beijing-based newspaper. This compared with 141,000 students from 179 countries and regions in 2005.
Globally, China has become the sixth largest destination for overseas students, it said, citing research conducted by the China Association of Science and Technology in April.
Western countries such as the United States, Britain and Australia remain the most popular destinations for international students. But China was catching up quickly, thanks to its rapid economic growth and low cost of living.
Annual tuition for a foreign student at the prestigious Peking University in Beijing ranged from 26,000 yuan (US$3,800) to 40,000 yuan (US$5,900), plus 45,000 yuan (US$6,600) for the cost of accommodation, food and transportation, according to the university's Office of International Relations.
More than 2,400 students from 80 countries were studying at Peking University at present, accounting for 7.8 percent of the university's students, the office said through its website.
Although learning mandarin, or standard Chinese, is a major purpose of international students, many choose to study liberal arts, medical science, economy, management and engineering in China.
Tsinghua University in Beijing offers 33 majors for international students this year, ranging from architecture, environmental engineering, computer software to journalism and history of fine arts.
Among them, ten master's degree programs are taught in English, said Wu Yunxin, director of the university's Foreign Student Affairs Office.
Research has shown that metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, and the provinces of Liaoning and Jiangsu with many elite universities are the most popular destinations for overseas students.
The top ten countries where students are from include the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, India, Indonesia, France and Pakistan.
(Xinhua News Agency September 3, 2008)