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Number of Chinese studying in the US continues to climb

Chen WeiHua/Paul Welitzkin
Updated: Nov 19,2014 9:53 AM     China Daily

The number of Chinese mainland students studying in universities and colleges in the United States continues to rise and accounts for 31 percent of all international students, the highest concentration that China, the top country of origin, has had since 1948, a report said.

The report, released on NOV 17 by the Institute of International Education, a global not-for-profit educational organization, said that 273,439 Chinese mainland students were enrolled in US universities and colleges during the 2013-14 academic year, a 16.5 percent increase over the previous year.

If the number of students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan were added, the total number of Chinese students in US universities and colleges would hit 304,361, making up more than 34 percent of the 886,052 international students in the US.

It was the fifth consecutive year that the Chinese mainland had retained the top place, after seven years of double-digit percentage increases. And the number of Chinese mainland students was nearly three times that of the second major source, India.

There are five times as many Chinese mainland students on US campuses as were recorded in the Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange in 2000.

Peggy Blumenthal, senior counsel to the president of IIE, said she believes that the new visa agreement between China and the US will be a boon for Chinese and US students alike.

Under an agreement reached a week ago during US President Barack Obama’s trip to Beijing, the two countries have started to issue student visas that are valid for five years, instead of the previous one-year limit.

“It will help a lot in making it easier for students to come to the US, knowing that they can go home for vacations and holidays and come back without the need to renew their visas,” Blumenthal said.

She described it as “a step to remove what could be a psychological barrier”.

The report also indicated that the growth rate for the 2013-14 academic year was the lowest since 2008-09.

A report from the US Council of Graduate Schools showed that first-time enrollment of students from China dropped 1 percentage point in 2014, the first decline since the survey was initiated in 2004.

Insiders attributed this to the end of the Chinese baby boom and improvements in the standard of Chinese education.

“China has passed its baby boom period,” said Chen Naibo, director of curricula of Quakers Education, a consultancy for overseas study in Beijing. “There has been a decrease in the total number of Chinese college students.”

And Chinese universities have started to compete for students, Chen added.

Philip G. Altbach, director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education, said China has increased the number and capacity of its high-quality graduate programs.

“Chinese students now have options at home to pursue advanced degrees they didn’t have several years ago,” he said.

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