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China boosts international student budget by 16% as student target nears

China’s allocated budget for the education of international students has been increased by 16.08% in 2018 to more than 3 billion yuan ($469 million), according to a report by the Ministry of Education.

China is well known as a sending nation, but increasingly students are choosing it as a destination too. Photo: Flickr/ Roman Boed

The budget is up from 2.86 billion yuan in 2017 to 3.32 billion yuan in 2018

The report on the MoE website details the 2018 budget for ‘overseas students who come to China to study’, which it states has been increased by 460 million yuan ($67.2 million), up from 2.86 billion yuan in 2017 to 3.32 billion yuan in 2018.

“It is natural for the budget to go up as the country becomes more attractive to international students”

The main reason for the increase in budget, according to the report, is the growing number of international students turning to China as a choice destination.

Earlier in 2018, the MoE reported a total of 489,200 international students had enrolled in Chinese institutions in 2017, up 10.5% on 2016 figures. The top 10 source countries were South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Laos, respectively.

The increase in the international education budget comes as part of a series of positive changes that are seeing China well on its way to its target of hosting 500,000 international students by 2020.

In 2017, 58,600 students from 180 countries were awarded Chinese government scholarships, accounting for 11.97% of the overall total.

Additionally, the MoE recently revealed plans to allow international students at Chinese universities nationwide work part-time in a bid to make the country’s education system more appealing.

Xiong Kunxin, a former professor at Beijing’s Minzu University of China told the Global Times that it is natural for the budget to go up as the country becomes more attractive to international students.

“This shows China’s determination to enhance its soft power”

“Such a decent budget outlay shows the country’s determination to enhance its soft power, and that will pay off in the long run,” he said.

Benjamin Phair, managing director at China Campuses Network described the investment boost as “fantastic news”, not only for future students but also the universities themselves.

“A good indicator on how this investment has helped the universities is to go to the QS World Rankings and see how many Chinese Universities are now climbing the ladder,” he told The PIE News.

“Over the past five years we have seen more and more Chinese universities entering the rankings as this direct investment into university infrastructure, research and facilities have grown… and we are happy that our students can continue to benefit from this continued upswing in improvements.”

More Chinese institutions are also opening up to international collaboration, after the MoE called on universities to be “draw on international talent” to help establish world-class research groups in China that “work on innovative, strategic and forward-looking” research.

“Universities should cooperate with international institutions and talent of various disciplines in working on major academic achievements,” the MoE statement said.

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