Compiled by accommodation provider Student.com, the report, which looks at China as a study destination, illustrates that Beijing and Shanghai claimed 48% of international students in 2006.
Last year, however, just 18% studied in Beijing, and 14% in Shanghai, while the remaining 68% of international students studied in other Chinese locations.
In 2015, there were 13 cities and provinces which hosted over 10,000 international students.
“Universities in Beijing and Shanghai are becoming increasingly competitive and difficult for students to get into”
Luke Nolan, co-founder of Student.com, nodded to the increasing number of universities outside of Shanghai and Beijing.
“As the government invests in these institutions for growth, the education quality improves further, and ever more students begin to choose these institutions,” he told The PIE News.
“Especially when the universities in Beijing and Shanghai are becoming increasingly competitive and difficult for students to get into.”
Furthermore, the number of government scholarships available to international students reached 40,600 last year, up from 36,943 the year before, following a steady increase each year.
The report outlines that there has been close to a fivefold increase in the quantity of these scholarships in the last 10 years.
“Cost is a major factor in the study abroad decision, so a scholarship to China would be a significant pull factor for international students,” said Nolan.
Last year, the country welcomed 397,635 international students, a number which has been growing on by an average of 10% year on year for the last 10 years.
As a result of its rapid growth, China could challenge the UK as the world’s second most popular destination by 2020.
However, despite its position globally, international students only make up just over 1% of a total of 33.86 million students in Chinese higher education institutions.
“We’re always monitoring trends in student demand, and since I studied here in 2005, there’s been a noticeable shift in the way that overseas students perceive Chinese higher education,” commented Nolan.
China’s educational influence is also evident beyond its growing appeal as a study destination. The country boasts 500 Confucius Institutes across 134 countries, with the aim of doubling this number by 2020.
“We will likely continue to see accommodation expectations and standards rise”
In addition, Chinese is the third most popular language for people to learn, with 2.5 million learners abroad, just behind English and Spanish.
Chinese universities are also rising in the rankings, with more universities entering league tables including QS World University Rankings, THE World University Rankings, and US News and World report rankings. In addition, in the Shanghai rankings this year, 54 of the country’s universities entered the top 500, compared with 35 in 2011. This was also the first time Chinese universities made the top 100.
Zhou Dong, CEO of China’s University and College Admission System, the official application portal for international students in China, said the increase of international students supports a positive “mutual understanding between China and other cultures”.
“In the past two years, the Chinese government has actively increased the availability of scholarships, made it possible for foreign students to take on part-time work, simplified visa processes and standardised the assessment of international degrees,” he said.
“All these are important measures to promote education for international students in China.”
In line with the large number of both domestic and international students studying in China, the accommodation sector is projected to grow, according to the report.
Simon Loveridge, managing director, Asia Pacific at GSA said that this is a multi-billion dollar industry.
“We project that over 10 million students in China study away from home,” he commented in the report.
“We will likely continue to see accommodation expectations and standards rise, particularly in Tier 1 cities and locations with a concentration of international students.”