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China makes effort to attract more overseas students

international students in China, overseas students in China

In 2014, more than 377,000 students from 203 countries studied in China, according to the Ministry of Education. The Institute of International Education calculated the number of foreign students as 356,499, and ranked the country as the third-largest host of international students after the United States and the United Kingdom.

据教育部统计,2014年,有来自203个国家的超过37.7万名学生在中国学习。据国际教育协会计算,海外学生的数量为356499。中国成为继美英后第三大留学生接收国。

Whatever the true number, in the eyes of Fang Jun, deputy director of the Ministry of Education's Department of International Cooperation and Exchange, the statistics don't tell the whole picture.

无论实际数字是多少,在教育部国际合作与交流司副司长方军眼中,这些数字都未能展示全景。

Judging by the numbers alone, China has made great progress in the provision of education for international students in the past four decades. In 1978, about 1,900 international students studied in China, but by 2014 that number had risen more than 200 times. Currently, about 2,500 universities offer places to international students, while in 1990 only about 100 universities were allowed to recruit students from overseas.

单从数字来看,过去的40年里,中国在为国际学生提供教育上进步巨大。1978年,大约有1900名国际学生在中国学习,而截止到2014年,这个数字已经增长了超过200倍。目前,大约有2500所高校为国际学生提供名额,而1990年仅有约100所高校有资格招收海外学生。

Fang said the sector is unbalanced because most international students study arts-based subjects, especially Chinese language, and those studying sciences, engineering and business account for a small proportion of the total.

方司长表示,学生分布情况是不均衡的。因为多数国际学生学习文科学科,尤其是中文。而学习理科、工科和商科的人只占很少一部分。

Another imbalance is the low number of students studying at degree level or higher. Only 44 percent of international students come to China to study for a degree. The others are on short-term study programs, many as exchange students who stay for a semester or two before returning to their countries to study for a degree. The situation is the reverse of those in the US and UK, where degree students account for the majority of the international group. In addition, rather than coming from a wide range of countries, most of the overseas students pursuing degrees in China are from concentrated regions, with more than 70 percent hailing from neighboring countries in Asia or from the African continent.

另一个不均衡的现象是修学士学位或更高学位的学生数量少。只有44%来中国的国际学生是为了修学位。其余学生都是参加短期学习项目,他们中许多都是作为交换生在中国学习一到两个学期后回国修学位。而在英美两国,情况刚好相反,学位学生占国际生的大多数。另外,多数在中国攻读学位的留学生都来自比较集中的地区,而不是更大范围的国家。其中超过70%的学生来自亚洲邻国或是非洲。

"Efforts need to be made to diversify the sources and types of international students coming to study in China," Fang said.

方军表示,"我们还需努力让来中国求学的国际生来源和类型更加多元化。"

Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of EOL, China's largest online education portal, said it is understandable that a large number of China's international students come from countries in Asia and Africa.

中国最大的在线教育门户网站"中国在线教育"的总编辑陈志文表示,在中国,大量国际学生来自于亚洲和非洲国家,这一点是可以理解的。

"Looking at the picture across the world, international students have two general directions of mobility — traveling within their own continent, or traveling from underdeveloped and developing countries to developed countries," he said.

陈总编表示,"环顾全球,国际生有两个流动的大方向,在本国所在大洲求学,或是从不发达国家以及发展中国家去往发达国家"。

According to Fang, affordability is one of the factors that international students find most attractive about studying in China. He has noticed that medical students account for more than one-fifth of the long-term academic body, and many of them are from Myanmar, Laos, India and Sri Lanka.

方司长表示,留学费用是国际生认为在中国求学最吸引人的一点。他注意到医学生占比超过五分之一,而其中许多人来自缅甸、老挝、印度以及斯里兰卡。

"Those countries are unable to nurture their own medical talent, which means their students have to travel overseas if they want to study medicine," he said. "It's much easier, cheaper and more convenient to study medicine in China compared with Western countries."

"这些国家无法培养自己的医学人才,也就意味着这些国家的学生如果想学习医学,就不得不留学海外",方司长说道。"和西方国家相比,在中国学医更加容易、费用更低、也更为方便。"

"At present, China mainly relies on its cultural, cost-performance and geographic advantages to attract international students," Fang said. "In the future, the focus should be shifted to improving the quality of education and forging a good reputation to attract more brilliant international students from different countries."

"目前,中国主要依靠文化、性价比以及地理优势吸引国际生",方司长表示。"未来我们将改变重心,致力于提升教育质量、营造好声誉来吸引来自不同国家优秀的国际生。"

The Ministry of Education has set a target of 500,000 international students in China in 2020, but a number of obstacles will have to be overcome before that goal is realized, according to Fang.

教育部定下目标,计划于2020年吸引累积达50万人数的留学生,然而,据方军所说,这一目标的达成还需战胜许多障碍。

China is a non-Anglophonic country, and Mandarin has a global reputation as a tough language to master, so the dearth of courses taught in English and the sometimes indifferent teaching can play decisive roles when international students are deciding where to study, he added.

中国是非英语国家,普通话的学习难度在世界上是公认的,因此英语授课课程的匮乏和教学方式是外国学生做选择的决定性因素,他补充道。

Katerina Galajdova, from the Czech Republic, studied Chinese in Beijing during the 2014-15 academic year. She said Czech students are reluctant to study in China because the language barrier seems insurmountable. "Here the Czech Republic people don't really study Chinese, only a few people do. People learn English as their first foreign language, and Chinese is a very 'exotic' language for us," she said during an exchange on WeChat.

来自捷克的卡特琳娜于2014-15学年在北京学习中文。她说,捷克学生不愿意来中国学习,因为语言障碍关似乎难以逾越。"这里捷克的人都不怎么学中文,真正学习的只有一少部分。人们都把英语当做第一外语,中文对于我们来说太新奇了。"卡特琳娜用微信交流时说。

Galajdova believes Chinese universities should provide a more-diverse range of courses in English to make them more attractive to overseas students. "More qualified English programs and teachers would help. Programs about international trade, business, and other related topics," she said.

卡特琳娜认为,中国的大学应该提供更多种类的英语授课课程,提高对外国学生的吸引力。"增加有质量的英语教学课程如国际贸易、商科及相关课程和教师数量会有帮助的。"她说。

According to Wang Huiyao, president and founder of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank in Beijing, the language barrier and poor teaching are not the only problems facing prospective international students in China. Many are also dissuaded by the difficulties of transferring academics credits between countries and also by the obstacles they face to verify their qualifications outside China.

中国与全球化智库的创始人兼董事长王辉耀表示,语言障碍和教学质量不高并非招收国际学生时面临的唯一问题。转换学分的问题和在中国以外的国家进行资质认证的阻碍也令他们望而却步。

"If your home country doesn't recognize the credits or academic degrees you obtained in China, then in most cases, you wouldn't be willing to come to study in China, right?" Wang said.

"如果你的祖国不认可你在中国的学分或学位,那么大部分情况下你肯定不愿意来中国上学对吗?"王辉耀说道。

By late last year, 43 countries had signed agreements with China to simplify academic credit transfers and provide mutual verification of qualifications.

2015年底,43个国家与中国签署了协议,简化学位转换程序,提供相互资质认证。

"China should communicate and cooperate more frequently with educational institutes in other countries, to make credit transfers and verification of qualifications easier and smoother," Wang said. "That would definitely help China to attract more students from a larger number of countries."

"中国应该与其他国家的教育机构更多交流合作,使转换学分和资质认证更便捷、顺利。这必定有利于中国吸引更多国外留学生。"王说。

Fang said the Education Ministry is aware of the problem and that a platform is being built to enable mutual recognition and easy transferability of credits awarded to international students in both China and their home countries.

方军表示,教育部已经意识到了这一问题,他们正在建立平台,促成中国及其他国家的资质相互认可、简化学分转换。

"It's not an easy task, but we've made some breakthroughs," he said, citing the ministry's recent cooperation with U15 — an association of 15 research universities in Canada, including the universities of Alberta, Toronto and Waterloo — as an example. Thanks to the enhanced cooperation, some prestigious Chinese universities selected by the ministry will offer a series of high-quality courses to attract U15 students to study in China for four to eight semesters. The credits achieved will be recognized by both countries.

"这不是个简单的任务,但我们已经有所突破,"他说,并举证教育部近期与一个有15所研究性大学的协会——U15的合作,这些大学中包括加拿大亚伯达大学、多伦多大学及滑铁卢大学等。在这些合作的助推下,教育部筛选了一些知名的中国大学提供一系列高质量的课程,吸引U15的学生在中国学习4-8个学期,这一期间获得的学分能为两国认可。

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2016-06-22

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