China will continue to welcome foreign students to study to help enhance bilateral and multilateral education exchanges and cooperation, sources from the Ministry of Education said.
At the same time, more efforts will be made to teach Chinese as a foreign language among foreigners, as China's educational development will compete globally following the country's accession to the World Trade Organization, according to the ministry.
"The policy of welcoming foreigners to study in China will remain unchanged in the future, but higher learning institutions, which are open to foreign students, will do more to improve teaching efficiency and campus services," said Hu Zhiping, an official with the ministry's Department of International Exchange and Cooperation.
Hu said that during the past few years, an increasing number of foreign students have come to China for both short-term specialized training and long-term studies for academic degrees.
China received a record-breaking 52,000 foreign students last year since its first group of 33 foreign students arrived from Eastern Europe in 1950.
From 1950 to 2000, the country received a total of 407,000 students from 160 countries, according to the ministry's statistics.
The number of foreign students studying in China has continued to rise since the country implemented its reform and opening-up policies, said Hu.
In 1978, less than 10,000 foreign students studied in China, but the figure jumped to 14,000 in 1992, 41,000 in 1996 and 52,000 in 2001.
Hu attributed this to the country's social stability and prosperous economy.
Increasingly more foreign students are enjoying the country's educational facilities, not just for such traditional courses as language and culture but for modern subjects such as law and finance. Masters' and doctors' degrees are replacing lower degrees as the targets of foreign students, he said.
(China Daily January 25, 2002)