Image of China’s growing popularity – nearly half a million int’l students in 2018

Far from being just a student departure lounge, China is attracting rising numbers of international students.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, China became the largest international student destination in Asia in 2017, when the number of internationals studying in the country reached 489,200.

In 2018, the number of international students studying in China very slightly rose to 492,185. Students came fromĀ  196 countries, according to the government’s press release. Data on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan is not included.

Just over half of the total number of students (258,122, 52,4%) were enrolled in degree programs, an increase of 7% on the 2017 numbers.85,062 students were enrolled at postgraduate level (an increase if 12% on 2017): of these, 25,618 were enrolled in a doctoral program and 59,444 in a master’s degree.

The vast majority, 429,144, were self-funded. Only 13% received Chinese government scholarships.

In terms of source regions and countries, China is particularly popular within its region. Asia accounted for 60% of all international students in 2018, while the second region was Africa at 17% and Europe was in third position at 15%.

As for source countries, Asia dominates the top-15. The only non-Asian countries in the top-15 were the US and Russia (5th and 6th respectively) and France in 13th position.

As in many other destination countries, students in China were not evenly spread. Beijing and Shanghai got the lion’s share, over 80 thousands the first and 60 thousands the second. The map below shows students’ destinations in selected provinces and cities in 2018 according to the government’s data.


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