The number of overseas students in China has continued to rise, building on two decades following the country's opening-up policy and accelerated by its accession to the World Trade Organization.
Latest statistics from the Ministry of Education indicate that China received a total of 85,829 from 175 countries and regions last year.
Ninety-three per cent of those are self-supporting, up 42 per cent on 2001.
The increase in overseas students studying in China can be attributed to the country's continuous economic growth over the past few years, coupled with reforms by a number of leading universities on their acceptance systems, sources with the ministry's Department for International Co-operation said.
These overseas students have enrolled in 395 universities in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.
"To guarantee students safety on campus, educational departments should further improve the management system for foreign students. For example, to help students apply for life insurance in case of accident," Zhao Weimin, a lecturer with the Beijing Language and Culture University, said in an interview with China Daily.
Starting this year, said Zhao, students at the university studying for more than a year will be required to apply for insurance.
Meanwhile, China's universities and relevant government departments ought to create a favorable climate so overseas students can join work-for-study activities, to help finance their studies in China.
Sources from the Ministry of Education said they were working on regulations to help provide work-for-study opportunities which were likely to include offering students the opportunity to work in their spare time to earn extra cash.
Last year, 77 per cent of overseas students were from Asia, 10 per cent each from America and Europe, 2 per cent from Africa and 1 per cent from Oceania.
The Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, Indonesia and Viet Nam are the top five countries and account for the majority of overseas students in China, according to the statistics.
Chinese literature and traditional Chinese medicine are the most popular subjects for those overseas students.
More than 63,000 students chose to major in Chinese culture and 4,070 enrolled in traditional Chinese medicine courses.
Last year, China awarded government scholarships to 6,074 students from 153 countries and regions, accounting for 7 per cent of the total.
Statistics also revealed that Beijing ranks first in receiving foreign students, followed by Shanghai and Tianjin municipalities, and Jiangsu, Liaoning, Shandong, Jilin, Heilongjiang and other seven provinces and autonomous regions.
(China Daily April 15, 2003)