More foreign students opting for China's smaller cities

2015-04-13 08:56Global Times Editor: Qian Ruisha
A group of foreign students visit Beijing's Tian'anmen Square. (File photo/China News Service)

A group of foreign students visit Beijing's Tian'anmen Square. (File photo/China News Service)

While the total number of international students in China has increased over the past two years, fewer are choosing to study to Beijing than before, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Education.

Of the 377,954 overseas students that studied in the Chinese mainland last year, 20,555 were enrolled in the capital, a decline of 3,364 from 2012. Meanwhile, enrolment figures in Jiangsu Province increased by 5,784, Liaoning Province by 4,316 and Shandong Province by 4,126.

"I see more foreign students choosing schools in smaller cities in the future as China continues to open up," said Xiong Bingqi, dean of 21st Century Education Research Institute, a non-profit think tank established in 2002 that monitors educational policy around the country.

The statistical report on international students in China is published biannually.

Denise Amoruso, a 22-year-old student from Italy majoring in Chinese at Kunming Normal University, said she chose the second-tier city to avoid the expat bubbles of Beijing and Shanghai.

"I chose Kunming [in Yunnan Province] because it has fewer foreigners compared to Beijing and Shanghai, so I would have to spend more time with locals and practice Chinese," she said. "I think people in Kunming are more friendly and eager to communicate with me, which gives me [a better] opportunity to understand local culture and traditions."

Amoruso, who won a scholarship from the Confucius Institute that enabled her to study anywhere in China, said she initially considered the Beijing Language and Culture University, but ultimately decided against it.

Prior to beginning her studies at the university in September last year, Amoruso spent two weeks in 2013 traveling through Beijing and Shanghai.

"Most Chinese people in big cities are already used to seeing foreigners and have been to other countries themselves, so they're not curious to communicate with me compared to people in smaller cities," she said. "Besides, the air is less polluted in Kunming, and the weather is neither too cold nor hot here. It's more comfortable. "

Scholarships and job opportunities

Xiong said that increasingly, local governments in second-tier cities were working with universities to invest in policies and scholarship programs to attract overseas students, in the process raising the international profile of the universities.

Since 2010, the provincial government of Jiangsu has set aside 15 million yuan ($2.42 million) each year for a scholarship fund targeting international students. Plans have also been announced to introduce 1,500 courses to be taught in English in the province's universities, according to a China Youth Daily report last August.

Giulia Cipollone, from Italy, chose to study international business at Yunnan University in Kunming after winning the 11th Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition, which came with a scholarship covering her tuition costs and living expenses in China.

Cipollone, 20, said that besides being lured by Kunming's temperate weather and ethnic diversity, she chose to base herself in a second-tier city was because she thinks it could be beneficial to her future career.

"Second-tier cities like Kunming are developing rapidly," said Cipollone, who hopes to work in a role relating to the Chinese economy after graduation. "Here, I could have a better understanding of Chinese economy, about how the small cities and counties are changing."

Xiong said that considerations like Cipollone were a major reason for international students' increased interest in studying outside Beijing and Shanghai.

"A growing number of international enterprises are being established in second-tier cities," said Xiong. "So the potential job market for foreigners in these cities is a factor."

According to a Western China Metropolis Daily report in May 2014, while the majority of Fortune Global 500 companies in the Chinese mainland are headquartered in Beijing and Shanghai, 269 also have offices in Sichuan Province.

In addition, the Xinhua News Agency reported in December 2013 that 80 Fortune 500 companies have offices in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, and local news portal noted in December 2011 that 26 such companies had set up branches in Kunming.

Related news


Most popular in 24h

MoreTop news


Travel News
Travel Types
Bar & Club
CNS Photo
Learning Chinese
Learn About China
Social Chinese
Business Chinese
Buzz Words
Special Coverage
Back to top Links | About Us | Jobs | Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.