By offering attractive scholarships, Jiangsu province hopes to establish itself as a hot spot for foreign students in China.
The province’s educational bureau launched the “Study in Jiangsu Program” on Aug 13. Qualified foreign students will be granted from 50,000 yuan ($8,125) to 90,000 yuan each year.
Yang Shubing, director of publicity at the educational department, said that the province’s ambition should be fulfilled by 2020 via the program.
“By then, we plan to attract 50,000 foreign students to the province every year, with more than 5 percent of them being master or doctoral candidates of elite universities such as Nanjing University,” he said.
Yang said the East China province had 18,700 foreign students by the end of last year.
“To encourage more such students, the provincial scholarship total has reached 15 million yuan each year,” said Yang.
Foreign students in exchange programs and candidates for bachelor or master’s degrees can apply for the scholarships.
Additionally, Yang said the province is encouraging cities and enterprises to establish municipal and enterprise scholarships for foreign students.
To provide a better studying environment for these students, the province is to set up 1,500 courses with English lectures within five years. The courses will cover natural and social sciences.
According to Yang, 50 universities in Jiangsu are receiving foreign students, the number of which has increased by 10 percent every year.
Nie Xianzhong, a researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences, said that with the rise of China’s soft power and economic status, the number of foreign students coming to China has significantly increased in recent years.
According to the Ministry of Education, their numbers rose from 52,000 in 2000 to 356,000 in 2013.
In 2010, the ministry issued a national plan to attract foreign students. Apart from national scholarships, they can also receive in some municipalities and provinces, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Liaoning province, grants from local governments.
Nie said that attracting foreign students can help the world to better understand China and appreciate its culture.
“It helps China show the world’s young people what China really is. They can help advertise the splendid Chinese culture to the rest of the world,” he said.