Universities in Shanghai have witnessed dramatic growth in the number of international students enrolled this year.
More than 19,000 overseas students, including those in both degree courses and short-term training, studied in Shanghai from the beginning of this year through September. That represents a 40 percent increase compared to last year, according to Zhou Qinjian, an official from the International Cooperation and Exchange Division at the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission.
"The figure is expected to exceed 50,000 by 2010, constituting almost half of all international students in the country at that time," said Zhou.
Zhou said China's fast economic development and its improving education are major reasons for the rapid growth.
China's foreign trade volume has reached US$1.04 trillion by the end of November this year and is taking an increasing portion in global trade, said Zhou.
"As China demonstrates vigorous economic growth, no big company can avoid doing business with it."
"And Shanghai is the economic center of China."
Statistics show that China has received US$57.5 billion foreign direct investments (FDI) this year, the highest among the world's countries.
"This means lots of job and investment opportunities," said Zhou.
"Big companies would prefer recruiting students with a Chinese cultural background when they want to establish businesses here."
Wu Huizhen, a professor from Fudan University, said, "Almost all of overseas students graduating from our school take jobs involving culture, economic exchanges with China or work in Shanghai,"
Fudan University has received a record number of more than 4,200 overseas students this year, the most in the city.
In addition, China's universities are getting increasing recognition in the world, according to Zhou.
Tongji University in Shanghai recently announced that it was going to establish a college in Osaka, Japan, at the request of the local government. It will be the first college China has ever set up in a developed country.
Tongji's Osaka College will offer courses on urban planning and public transportation, said Yang Dongyuan, deputy president of the university.
The large influx of overseas students has brought the city and its universities both opportunities and challenges, according to Zhou.
"It is estimated that each of those students has spent an average 60,000 yuan (US$7,250) in the city, including tuition, accommodations and travel, every year, which has contributed a lot to the city's economic growth and provided many job opportunities," said Zhou.
(China Daily December 22, 2004)