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US “on track” to send 100,000 students to China

Considerably more Americans are studying in China than previously thought, according to a new study from the Institute of International Education. It also claims the US is likely to meet its goal to send 100,000 students to China in four years by 2014, despite fears to the contrary.

An additional 11,000 studied not-for-credit programmes bringing the total to 26,686

While 15,647 Americans studied abroad for credit in 2010/11 – a figure quoted in IIE’s Open Doors report – an additional 11,000 studied shorter, not-for-credit programmes according to the study – bringing the total to 26,686. Programmes include internships, language courses and full degree courses among others.

IIE added that only 34% of the 1,680 accredited US colleges it polled responded, suggesting the number studying in China could be much higher.

“As this is a pilot study…these numbers are almost certainly an undercount”

“As this is a pilot study, including responses from over 500 US campuses, these numbers are almost certainly an undercount,” it states.

“It is likely that there are many more US students who go to China on their own, often over school breaks, who are not being tracked or reported by higher education institutions at this time.”

Alongside for-credit students, some 4,019 took “study tours” in China in 2010/11 (in which students travel to a country or a number of countries and receive information around the theme of the tour).

Two thousand two hundred were enrolled on full degree programmes – up 23% on the previous year – while several thousand undertook “extended coursework”. 1,500 took Chinese language programmes while the remainder were involved in exchanges, research, on internships, volunteering or teaching abroad programmes.

Over 90% of institutions said they felt US to China mobility would rise.

The findings are good news for the US Government, which feels too few US students study in China, given the vast number of Chinese studying in the US (at least 194,000 in 2012). Assuming a “sustained or increased interest in studying in China”, IIE claims the government is now on track to meet the goal of its 2010 programme “100,000 Strong”  — to send 100,000ming a sustained or increased interest in studying in China”.  Previous data suggested the goal would not be met.

“It is vital that information about funding for study in China reach interested students”

IIE concedes there are obstacles to increasing study in China, however, including language barriers; a lack of course options and transferability of credit; and low uptake from community college students (who make up just 2% of those studying in China). The biggest barrier is funding, which it puts down to unawareness of scholarship opportunities.

“It is vital that information about funding for study in China reaches interested students,” it states. “Broad involvement at the institutional level and through the advocacy of policy makers and various stakeholders is needed.”

Last week outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 100,000 Strong Foundation, a permanent body tasked with galvanising government and business to improve exchange.

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