More international students seek learning opportunities in China in post-pandemic era: scholars
Published: Apr 07, 2023 08:42 PM
China Study Abroad Forum Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange

China Study Abroad Forum Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange

 With China's growing national strength, the "fever" for learning Chinese language has become "an unstoppable storm" which is attracting more international students seeking learning opportunities in China, especially amid the post-pandemic era, according to experts at the first official offline study abroad forum after China's COVID-19 measures were optimized.

The forum was held under the theme "Towards a better future: enhancing international cooperation in education and talent development" in Beijing on Friday morning. Top-tier scholars and experts from both China and abroad participated in the forum, including representatives from prestigious institutions such as University College London in the UK, National University of Singapore in Singapore and Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea.

Many experts told the Global Times that just as more Chinese students are going overseas to broaden their horizons, more international students also dream to come to China for study and learn more about the country and its profound culture and history.

"Now that the COVID situation has stabilized, I'm sure the interest and demand is there. The World Health Organization says the end of the pandemic is in sight… then I'm sure many students will come not just from the traditional countries like the US or Canada, but also from other countries, such as Pakistan and other countries along the Belt and Road. It's a great opportunity for them to learn more about China. Then maybe they can go back and get a job on the project, and that would be wonderful," Paul Turner, an expert who previously worked at the Institute of International Education (IIE), told the Global Times on Friday.

Calum Porter, an international recruitment manger from the University of Hull in the UK, told the Global Times on Friday that after Brexit, many students in the UK lost access to Erasmus funding, so they are now looking at more global destinations including China.

Yin Tao, deputy director of the International Office of Shandong Normal University (SDNU), told the Global Times that the number of international students studying in SDNU has steadily increased since January, 2023.

He explained that the university has six affiliated Confucius Institutes overseas in Kenya, South Korea, Russia, Canada, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, and over 80 percent of the international students came to China to learn Chinese language.

"As far as I know, the international students who studied Chinese could usually find better jobs when returning to their countries," Yin said, adding that they continue to attract more international students after improving their accommodation, dining, transportation and the quality of courses.

Ma Maoxiang, dean of the International Students Office of SDNU, told the Global Times on Friday that before the epidemic, China had become the second largest country in the world and the largest destination country for studying in Asia. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges, coming to China for study has become an "unstoppable trend" as the country's international influence grows.

My Beautiful Encounter with China Event Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange

My Beautiful Encounter with China Event Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange

On Friday afternoon, an event themed "My Beautiful Encounter with China" was held, in which outstanding international students made speeches sharing their stories about China. Meanwhile, an overseas social media competition for essays and short videos under the theme was officially launched.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, US students still "have obstacles to studying in China" even though China optimized its COVID-19 measures, and this is mainly due to "geopolitical tensions between the US and China."

The two Chinese experts refuted that claim, saying Chinese universities are all actively welcoming international students returning to China for study, and criticized the politicization of overseas education, saying it created obstacles to global multicultural exchanges.

"Our staff are assisting all current overseas students to come to China and return to school as soon as possible, and restore the normal offline teaching order. As far as we know, we have not encountered any obstacles for students from a certain country to come to China, and it is also not in line with our education purpose," said Ma.

"The overseas study we are committed to should be open and inclusive, whether it is in China, the US or any other country. We are committed to providing a platform for international cultural and knowledge exchange and sharing through interaction and mutual learning," Yin echoed.