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China attracts education partnerships and foreign students

China is recently experiencing a boom in partnerships between top-ranked foreign institutions and leading Chinese universities, either establishing new joint programmes or creating entirely new joint universities. The latest opening has been Duke Kunshan University, the new Sino-American joint venture between Duke University and Wuhan University, that received its first student intake last month. It came one year after the inauguration of Shanghai New York University (partnership between New York University and East China Normal University).

Many more are the Sino-foreign programmes recently launched. Most of them are heavily weighted towards graduated business studies, like a programme launched jointly by Peking University and Northwestern University this fall, or two other programmes announced last June by Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management with Tsinghua University, and the London Business School with Fudan University. All of the openings operate with full approval of the Chinese Ministry of Education and arise from regulations introduced by the Chinese government a decade ago to permit the establishment of foreign university campuses within China. The expansion of foreign-Sino partnerships connects to two other important trends: the rise of China as a popular destination for study (now the third most-popular destination in the world) and the flattening of Chinese enrolments abroad. 

The efforts of public authorities to make China more attractive as a study destination is materializing also in the form of generous scholarships. For instance the eastern province of Jiangsu launched in August  a new programme called ‘Study in Jiangsu’, aimed at developing the province into a major destination for foreign students.  Annual scholarships of 50,000 to 90,000 yuan (EUR 6 500 to EUR 11 700) are made available to applicants from overseas wanting to study at local universities, including joint overseas ventures such as Duke Kunshan University and Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. 

The province of Jiangsu is not alone. According to declarations, Shanghai is aiming to attract 70 000 foreign students by 2015, up from 40 000 this year and will increase the number of scholarships for those on longer degree programmes. Also Beijing is actively trying to attract more foreign students and has said it will provide scholarships for 50 000 international students by 2015. Although the majority of foreign students in China are currently from the US and South Korea, the China Scholarship Council has announced that Chinese higher education would be promoted more strongly in Europe and that the number of scholarships provided to European students will be increased.

Read more on sino-foreign partnerships: ICEF
Read more on chinese scholarship plans: University World News