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China Higher Education Statistics

China International Student Statistics

China International Student Statistics

The studying abroad idea appears as a challenging yet exciting experience that most students worldwide wish to experience at least once. China is among the countries with a high reputation for studying abroad. According to the latest statistics, in 2018, 492,185 enrolled in higher education institutions in China. International students choose China because of the high education quality along with the numerous employment options.

Quick Summary

The number of international students in China has increased significantly from 2009, by over 106%.

  • There are 492,185 international students enrolled in Chinese universities, according to the latest statistics up to 2018.
  • Within a year, however —from 2017 to 2018— the number of international students in China increased only by 0.6%.
  • The capital city of China, Beijing, is the city with the highest number of international students, a total of 80,786.
  • International students from 50,600 students. make for the majority of international students in China, with 50,600 students.
  • 71.3% of students agreed with the statement that international students choose China because of the high education quality and professional staff.
  • Whereas, the majority of international students disagree with the statement that Chinese universities have easy application procedures.
  • 928,090 Chinese students are currently studying abroad.
  • The United States leads the list of the countries with the most Chinese students, with 340,222 students.
  • Of the total 492,185 international students in China in 2018, 429,144 are self-funded, and 63,041 have earned scholarships from the Chinese government.

Historical International Student Statistics in China

  • The latest statistics show that in 2018 there were 492,185 international students enrolled in higher education studies in China.
  • From 2009, the number of international students in China increased significantly by 106.6%, from 238,184 to 492,185.
  • For half a decade, from 2013 to 2018, the number of international students increased by 38%.
  • The number of international students enrolled in Chinese universities increased by 23.7% over four years, from 2015 to 2018.
  • From 2017 to 2018, the number of international students slightly increased by only 0.6%.
Year International Students
2018 492,185
2017 489,200
2016 442,773
2015 397,635
2014 377,054
2013 356,499
2012 328,330
2011 292,611
2010 265,090
2009 238,184

Top Cities in China for International Students

According to the latest statistics gathered on the number of international students in China, the data below shows the Chinese regions with the most international students, up to 2018.

  • Beijing is the city with the highest number of international students enrolled in higher education studies in China, with a total of 80,786 students.
  • Among the top ten cities in China with the most international students, Shanghai comes second with 61,400 students from abroad.
  • Jiangsu Province is ranked third among Chinese cities and provinces with the most international students, with 45,778 students, followed by Zheijang Province with 38,190 students, and Liaoning Province in fifth place with 27,879 international students.
  • Around 23,691 international students studying in China were enrolled in Tianjin universities.
  • Other provinces of China that international students choose to study in include Guangdong Province with 22,034 students, Hubei Province with 21,371 students, Yunnan Province with 19,311 international students, and finally Shandong Province with 19,078 students.

International Students in China by Country of Origin

The data below is a representation of 2018, as the latest statistics available for the origin of international students in China.

  • The majority of international students in China come from South Korea, with a total of 50,600 students.
  • Thailand (28,608) comes second among the countries with most international students in China, with a significant difference of 55.5% compared to South Korea.
  • In comparison, Malaysia is one of the countries with the least number of international students studying in higher education institutions in China, with only 9,479 students.
  • In 2016, Asian countries brought the most international students to China, a total of 264,930 students.
Country of Origin International Students
South Korea 50,600
Thailand 28,608
Pakistan 28,023
India 23,198
United States 20,996
Russia 19,239
Indonesia 15,050
Laos 14,645
Japan 14,230
Kazakhstan 11,784
Vietnam 11,299
Bangladesh 10,735
France 10,695
Mongolia 10,158
Malaysia 9,479

Why do International Students Choose China?

The latest research done on the international enrollment trends in China show a number of reasons why international students choose China for their higher education studies.

  • In a study on why international students choose China for studying abroad, they had to choose how strongly they agree with several statements.
  • 52.6% of international students strongly agree with the statement that they chose China because of the multiple available scholarships, and 12.5% disagreed with this statement.
  • Another reason for choosing China as the study abroad option is the chance to learn a new language and a new culture. 65.7% of students agreed with this statement, whereas 18.5% disagreed.
  • 46.1% of international students that took part in the study strongly agreed with the statement that they chose China to study abroad because of the high admission rates. Whereas 11.3% of students disagreed with this statement, and 0.3% strongly disagreed.
  • Another reason why international students travel to China to study abroad is the easy application procedures, and only 8.2% of students strongly agreed with this statement, whereas 39.3% disagreed.
  • 71.3% of students agreed with the statement that international students choose China because of the high education quality and professional staff. In comparison, 11.7% of students disagreed with this statement.
  • The low cost of living is another possible reason why international students choose China to study abroad, and 57.8% of the participants agreed with this statement, whereas 22.6% disagreed.

Other Side of the Coin: Chinese Students Studying Abroad

Aside from the large number of international students who travel to China to study abroad, a considerable number of Chinese students also study outside of the country.

  • According to the late statistics, China is at the top of the list for sending students abroad, with 928,090 Chinese students studying in different parts of the world.
  • The United States leads the list of the countries with the most Chinese students, with a total of 340,222 students.
  • Australia comes second among the countries with students from China, 155,594 students.
  • 122,140 international students from China have chosen the United Kingdom to study abroad.
  • Other countries that have a considerable number of Chinese students enrolled in higher education studies include Japan with 91,528 students, Canada (75,768), Korea (55,670), Hong Kong (39,663), and Germany (32,472), France (23,524), and Macao with 19,007 Chinese students.

How Do International Students in China Fund Their Studies?

  • Of the total 492,185 international students in China in 2018, 429,144 are self-funded, and 63,041 have earned scholarships from the Chinese government.
  • 88.8% of international students in 2017 self-financed their studies, and 11.9% received government-issued scholarships.
  • In 2009, 7.6% of international students had scholarships to study abroad in China, and 92.3% were self-funded students.
Year Scholarships by the Chinese Government Self-funded Students
2009 18,245 219,939
2010 22,390 242,700
2011 25,687 266,924
2012 28,768 299,562
2013 33,322 323,177
2014 36,943 340,111
2015 40,600 357,035
2016 49,022 393,751
2017 58,600 430,600
2018 63,041 429,144