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China is the new education hub

The Middle Kingdom, which aims to be Asia’s international education hub by 2020, has become a popular choice of Indian and other students.

education Updated: Aug 29, 2012 17:23 IST
Rahat Bano

A young Indian engineer decided to pursue his MBA in China. A number of his friends were surprised as that’s not a country many would think of as a b-school destination. Well, Ravi Mittal had his reasons (read his story). Like him, hundreds of thousands of Indian and other overseas students have opted for the Middle Kingdom that boasts of an economy in trillions of dollars.

According to the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, the numbers have “obviously” jumped up in the past five years. The embassy and other official sources state that, in 2011, 292,611 international students, including 9,800 Indians, chose to study in China. The year before, 265,090 candidates from 194 countries and regions did so. The countries with the largest representation were Republic of Korea, the United States, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia, India, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

The Dragon craves more. Aiming to be the top choice of those looking to take up higher, secondary or even elementary education on this continent, the country has launched a 10-year plan to have Asia’s largest international student population – half a million, including 150,000 pursuing degrees – by the end of this decade.

“China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) will make further efforts to optimise the environment for international students, improve management and to upgrade education quality, by adhering to the National Outline for Medium and Long Term Educational Reform and Development as well as the Study in China Plan, aiming at attracting 500,000 international students by 2020 so as to make China Asia’s biggest host country for international students,” according to the China Scholarship Council website.

Different experts have publicly voiced scepticism over the “ambitious” expansion plans. Sreemati Chakrbarti, a professor at Delhi University’s department of east Asian studies, does not. “For China, nothing seems too ambitious. Maybe they’ll lower the tuition fees, increase the number of courses taught in English, get foreign faculty,” says Chakrbarti, who specialises in Chinese politics and education.

Authorities have already set the ball rolling to boost its education sector. According to one report, the country would expand the scholarship programme for overseas students, with “at least” 1.5 billion yuan ($238 million) worth of scholarships in 2012-13.

The financial aspect is one of the usual factors that has driven students east-ward, as is the relatively less competitive entry to courses such as medicine and management, which are the favourites (more than 90%) of Indians studying in the People’s Republic, according to information provided by the embassy. “It’s quite easier for Indian students to register for the medicine major than in European or US universities.”

Also, some Chinese institutions are among the world’s top 200 or 500 universities. “The quality of education is fairly good,” says Chakrbarti. “About 10 to 15 Chinese universities are world-class.”

Other than entrance requirements, price and physical proximity to India, there are still more critical reasons for learning in and about this globally-significant nation. A case in point is the US. It is creating the “next generation of experts on China” through its 100,000-strong initiative launched by US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010. By 2014, 100,000 Americans are going to study there under the plan.

Money-meter
According to CUCAS (China’s University and College Admission System), a student’s annual bill would be something in the range of $6,000 to $9,000, depending on the university’s location, with the cost being “significantly less” in a small town or a city in Western China

Is language an issue?
The official response suggests it isn’t. “More and more Chinese universities now offer courses in English, enabling students with no knowledge of Chinese language to study there,” as per the China Scholarship Council website

International students in China
2011:
292,611
(266,924 were self-financed)
2010: 265,090
2009: 240,000

Source: China Scholarship Council and China Daily


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