China grows as study
hotspot for U.S.
By Margo Buchanan International Herald Tribune
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2005
PARIS China's rise as an economic
powerhouse is resulting in a rapid expansion of its system of higher education,
making it the fastest-growing destination for American foreign exchange
students, a study has found.
The number of American students seeking higher education in China has never been greater, increasing by 90
percent from 2002 to 2004, according to the study by the Institute
of International Education, a research
organization based in New York.
At the same time, increasing numbers of Chinese students are attracted by
university training in the United States,
position as the top destination for Chinese students abroad, according to the
study, which was financed by the U.S. State Department.
Alan Goodman, president of the institute, ties the phenomenon to the pace of
change in China,
which is spending billions of dollars to expand and transform its higher
educational facilities into world-class institutions.
"This is a real measure of the impact of globalization," Goodman
said during a recent visit to Paris during which
he highlighted the study's results on China. "The only way an
American student is going to understand what a Chinese student might think
about our country and its policies is to sit next to
one in class."
The building spree in China
is helping fuel student visits by Americans and other foreigners, drawn by the
better facilities now available and by the prospect of gaining expertise in the
world's most populous country.
A total of 4,737 American students enrolled in Chinese universities in the
2003-2004 academic year, the institute's study found,
up from 2,493 students the previous year.
The jump in enrollment stems in part from a rebound in study in East Asia following the SARS epidemic, which closed down
several programs in spring and summer 2003. Just before that severe acute
respiratory syndrome outbreak, however, the number of American students
studying in China
increased at a faster rate than any of the other top 15 destination countries,
rising 33 percent from 2000 to 2001. The enrollment figures this year are 21
percent higher than the pre-SARS mark.
now ranks ninth as a host destination for American students, advancing from the
No. 12 spot a year earlier. Britain
continues to be the leading destination, attracting 16.8 percent of all
American students who study abroad, the study found.
Jobs are an important consideration for American students heading to China, according to Chih-Ping
Chou, professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.
is a job market," Chou said. "Twenty years ago only those interested
in Chinese literature would study Chinese language; Now
all professions have opened up."
For Chinese students in America,
training in the United
States has benefits beyond exposure to a new
"Chinese students are more competitive if they've studied in the
U.S.," Denise Chu, overseas program manager for the Center of East Asian
Studies at Stanford University, said by telephone.
"The Chinese government has a lot of incentive programs to recruit
Chinese students once they've studied in the U.S.," he said. "They can
get a higher salary and a better future."
In the 2004-2005 academic year, China
sent more than 62,000 students to the United States, nearly 60 percent
more than a decade earlier, the study showed. The Chinese now represent 11
percent of foreign students in the United States,
the second-largest group behind students from India, according to the study.
Nationwide in China,
the number of students enrolled in higher education has more than doubled in
less than five years. In 2000, the country counted 5.8 million university
students; by 2004, that number had rocketed to 13.3 million.
But for some, quick growth does not necessarily; translate into top-class
education, and this is one reason why some Chinese students enroll abroad.
"I came to the U.S.
because I think the quality of higher education is much better here," said
Tao Xie, a fifth-year Chinese graduate student of
American politics at Northwestern
educational system is undergoing fundamental changes at the moment," Xie added. "But it still has a long way to go."