Caixin
Sep 25, 2012 02:36 PM

China Becomes World's Top Source of Overseas Students

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(Beijing) – Recent years have witnessed a continuous growth in the number of Chinese students studying abroad.

China has become the world's largest source of overseas students, accounting for 14 percent of global total, according to a report released by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on September 17.

The Ministry of Education said that from 1978 to the end of 2011, China sent 2.25 million students abroad, 90 percent of that coming after 2000. The years from 2000 and 2010 have seen an annual growth rate of 28.2 percent.

The number of Chinese students studying abroad passed 1 million at the end of 2006, then grew more rapidly. The year 2011 set a record for itself with about 340,000 Chinese studying abroad.

The number of Chinese students studying in America grew so robustly that China beat India to become the biggest source of overseas students in America in 2010. More than 157,000 Chinese students studied in the United States in 2011, or 22 percent of total number of foreign students in the country.

The report says most Chinese students studying abroad come from families with a background in higher education. In recent years, studying abroad has expanded from the elite to the general public, said Wang Huiyao, vice president of the Western Returned Scholars Association and CCG director general. More and more students from working-class families are also studying abroad.

However, the report also says China is not suffering a brain drain, as more and more oversea students are returning to China. The average annual growth rate of returnee students in recent years is around 30 percent, and many returnee students choose to set up companies in China than engage in teaching or scientific research abroad.

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