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China is a more popular choice for Indian students than the UK

China has emerged as a more popular choice for Indian students than the UK, and more popular than Australia and Canada internationally. Here's why.
BY Skendha Singh |   08-01-2018
Students at Tsinghua university
Students at Tsinghua university

China is fast emerging as the study destination of choice for international students. According to new data published by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 440,000 international students were studying in China in 2016. Internationally, it ranks next only to the US and UK as a destination for higher education. For Indian students too, China is now more popular than the UK, which has traditionally been a huge draw. 18,171 Indian students chose China for further education compared to 18,015 who chose the UK in 2016.

Xu Tao, Director of the MOE’s Department of International Cooperation and Exchange, said that for international students, the most popular non-language degrees were medicine, engineering, economics, and management. Beijing and Shanghai are the two most popular host-cities.

There are several reasons for this phenomenal growth in the number of students. One is the Chinese government’s push to attract international students by offering generous scholarships. In 2015, the government sponsored 40% of all international students. Two, Chinese universities are increasingly well-regarded internationally, steadily climbing international rankings. In 2016, the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings featured more universities from China than from either Australia or Canada. Thirdly, China is the world’s second-largest economy, and fourth-most popular destination for international travel. Thus, an understanding of the Chinese language and culture can distinguish students at the workplace and boost their careers. Finally, in the Indian context, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has pushed Indian students to look for alternative options to study medicine. NEET replaced the previous medical entrance exam, and has a controversial format – including negative marking. With cost-effective degrees taught in English and recognized by the Medical Council of India, China has proved the best option.

In 2016, India ranked 5th among the top ten countries sending students to China. With the burgeoning need of its demographic, and the paucities in the domestic education sector, India is a rich market for international universities. Generous financial aid, open visa policies, and quality education can reap rich dividends. In this context, China is clearly leading the way.


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