More Than 300,000 International Students Study In China

In recent years, Malaysian students opting to go China for further education has been on the uptrend. The increase of Malaysian students studied in China are due to numerous factors such as reasonable and affordable tuition fees, high standard of education quality that on par with Western universities and also close cultural similarities. Coupled with the close bilateral relationship between China and Malaysia government in the past 40 years and the recent accreditation of 820 China universities by Malaysia Qualifying Agency, this set to drive more Malaysian students to choose China as the preferred destination.

The statistics provided by the Embassy of the People's Republic China in Malaysia shown in 2011, a total of 4,338 Malaysian students were studying in China. The following year, it surged 40% (the year where Malaysia Qualifying Agency accredited 820 China varsities) to 6,045. Last year, there were 6,126 Malaysian students in China universities.

At the international front, the total number of foreign students from about 200 countries and regions studying in China has reached 328,330 in 2012 and they are reported studying in variety of disciplines at 690 colleges and other institutions across China (not including those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao). The percentage of growth is 12.21% against that of 2011, with an increase rise of 35,719 in number.

Table 1 – Breakdown of foreign student population in China by Continent, 2012
ContinentTotal numberPercentageIncrease or decrease in
number as of last year
Increase or

China ranks 3rd after US and UK as the world's most-popular study destination. English medium clinical medicine is the most popular choice of degree program preferred by international students. Came in second is engineering and followed by international economics and trade and Chinese language.

Table 2 - Top host destinations worldwide, 2011/12 (Source - Project Atlas)    

Destination2011 - Total
International Students
2012 - Total
International Students
United States764,495819,644
United Kingdom480,755488,380

One of the main reason of increase of international students in China is that China’s top universities – most of which deliver significant programs in English – are seeing increasing numbers of overseas students from non-Asian countries in addition to the trend of where there has also been “a substantial increase” in the number of international students enrolled in degree programs delivered in Chinese due to expansion of Confucius institutions around the world with the aim to promote and encourage people to learn Mandarin.

Below are some statistical figures for Foreign Students in China in 2012

i. The top 15 countries where most foreign students are from: 

1.  South Korea - 63,488

2.  USA - 24,583

3.  Japan - 21,126

4.  Thailand - 16,675

5.  Russia - 14,971

6.  Indonesia - 13,144

7.  Vietnam - 13,038

8.  India - 10,237

9.  Pakistan - 9,630

10.  Kazakhstan - 9,565

11.  France - 8,386

12.  Mongolia - 8,210

13.  Germany - 6,271

14.  Malaysia - 6,045 and 

15.  Singapore - 4,250

ii. The top 10 provinces where the most foreign students study: 

1.  Beijing - 77,706

2.  Shanghai - 50,557

3.  Guangdong - 20,940

4.  Tianjin - 19,076

5.  Zhejiang - 17,461

6.  Jiangsu - 17,425

7.  Liaoning - 16,694

8.  Shandong - 13,770

9.  Hubei - 11,535

10.  Fujian - 9,541

iii. Statistics based on student category: 

The number of foreign students who take academic education in China is 133,509 in all, accounting for 40.66 percent of the total number of foreign students. Compared with the same period of last year, this figure has increased 12.35 percent, with a rise of 14,672 in number. The year 2012 witnesses an increase of 18.71 percent in the number of master's and doctoral overseas students (36,060 students in all), which includes masters (27,757 students) and doctors (8,303 students) respectively. Besides, 194,821 non-academic overseas students also study in China.

iv. Statistics based on funding source: 

The number of the Chinese Government scholarship students is 28,768, accounting for 8.76 percent of the total number of foreign students. The number of Self-funded overseas students is 299,562, which takes up 91.24 percent of the total number of foreign students.

Source - Chinese Ministry of Education

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