Will China dominate international higher education in the near or distant future?


Will China dominate international higher education in the near or distant future?


This question may be redundant.  The question to ask may be when will China become the dominant player in international higher education. China is already a major player in international higher education.

Twenty years ago there were 3.4 million students in China. Today there are more than 26 million. In 2017 nearly 490,000 international students studied in China, an increase of 10.5 percent from the previous year.  Since 2004, the number of international students enrolling in Chinese colleges and universities has increased by nearly 300 percent. China is currently the third most popular destination for international students and could overtake the UK next year in terms of international student enrollment.

China has made a long-term investment in higher education. The country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative has enrolled, and will continue to enroll, students from the countries along the ancient “Silk Road.” Last year 317,000 international students enrolled in China were from “Belt and Road” countries and two-thirds of all international students studying in China are from “Belt and Road” countries.

China has significantly increased enrollment of African students by offering generous scholarship and employment opportunities. In 2017, 12 percent, or nearly 59,000 students, studying in China received scholarship assistance.

It is by design, rather than accident, that the number of international students continues to significantly increase each year.  Chinese tuition and fees are lower than in most other universities. Tuition and fees for one year of study in China is approximately $3,200. The number of English taught programs has increased by 63 percent in the last five years and that element has attracted students from around the world.

A new visa policy allowing international students to work and remain in China after graduation is also another factor attracting a global international student population. According to China’s National Development and Reform Commission, 89 percent of international students plan to pursue short-term internships and 95 percent plan to take advantage of China’s policy of allowing foreigners to work after graduation.

In 2017, China was the most popular destination for Asian and Southeast Asian international students, including students from South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Laos.

In October 2018, “The Jakarta Post” reported that there are currently 68,000 Indonesian students studying in China and the Chinese government has set a goal of increasing that number to 100,000.

China is now the leading host for international branch campuses. China has edged out the United Arab Emirates as the top host country.

In 2015, Xiamen University, in collaboration with the Malaysian government, opened up its first international branch campus abroad.

Will China dominate international higher education in the near or distant future? The statistics speak for themselves.

In a subsequent article I will examine the rise of Chinese universities in global ranking lists and China’s purchases of schools throughout the world.


This entry was posted in Colleges, Foreign Students, International Education, International students, Universities by Marguerite Dennis. Bookmark the permalink.

About Marguerite Dennis

Marguerite Dennis has been recruiting internationally for over 25 years, first at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and then at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. During that time she was responsible for establishing a branch campus for Suffolk University in Dakar, Senegal and Madrid, Spain. Marguerite increased the international student population at Suffolk University by 193% from 1993 to 2011 and increased the number of study abroad programs by 135%, from 20 to 47. She monitored the recruitment programs for Suffolk University in 20 countries and hired a network of 10 international educational consultants. She signed agreements in Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Germany, Mexico, France and Argentina.

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