By 2020 Chinese universities will enroll 300,000 students from abroad, up from 140,000 in 2005, said a Chinese educational official Monday.
But the current 20 percent annual growth rate in foreign student enrollments is expected to drop to eight percent from 2020, Cao Guoxing, director-general with the International Cooperation and Exchanges Department of the Ministry of Education, told a conference in Shihezi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
"China is increasingly popular with foreign students because its economy is booming so the number of them enrolling will continue to increase over the next few years," he said. China recruited more than 140,000 foreign college students from over 190 countries in 2005, added the official.
A total of 568 universities in China are qualified to enroll foreign students and the majority of those from overseas studying in the country major in the Chinese language and traditional medicines, he explained.
Statistics from the National Statistics Bureau show that more than 30 million people outside China are studying the language including 5 million learning it at school.
Improvements in the quality of education are a magnet for overseas students, said Guo Wei, who is in charge of foreign student affairs at Shihezi University.
All medical courses are taught in English with multimedia support to make things easier for foreign students, he said.
In addition the Chinese government plans to increase the number of scholarships for foreign students to 10,000 per year from the current 6,700 in order to attract more foreigners to China, the official said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2006)