Since foreign students were allowed into China in 1950 over a million foreign students have studied in China, mostly language courses.
These students are from 184 countries and regions of the world. These foreign students are currently studying at 519 universities, institutes and colleges in 31 provinces in China.
Since 2000, the number of international students studying in China has risen more than 400%, to more than 220,000 in 2008. The aim for 2020 is to have 500,000 foreign students in China.
Among the 223,499 students studying in China in 2008, 35.8% of these were studying toward a degree programme, and 6% were funded by a Chinese government scholarship. Total foreign students by programme-type, 2008.
Total foreign students by funding type
A more detailed breakdown of international student demographics is presently only available for 2006. In 2006, the 162,692 foreign students in China came from 184 countries, among whom 42,962 students were short-term (6-months or less), representing a 15.3% annual increase. Region of origin
Area of Study * While in 2006 the majority of students were studying Chinese language, anecdotal evidence suggests the trend for most areas of study is rising.
1) Foreign Students by Area of Study As the chart reveals, nearly two-thirds of students visit China to study the Chinese language. Medicine, business, economics and management programmes are also increasingly common areas of study.
2) Degree-seeking (full-time, 2006) Among degree-seeking students, over 40% are pursuing an undergraduate degree. 'Other' students are undertaking vocational qualifications or studying within degree programmes but will not receive a formal degree qualification.
3) Degree-seeking students by region (2006) Almost 80% of degree-seeking students presently come from Asia. The absolute number of students from all regions is rising.
4) Total students by region of origin Of the 162,000 students presently in China, almost a third of foreign students presently come from South Korea, followed by Japan and the United States. As with the number of degree-seeking students, in general the absolute numbers of all nationalities are rising.