Over the weekend I received an interesting alert via Google with some information on the growing number of international students in China. According to the People's Daily, in 2010 the total number of Chinese studying abroad reached 284,700, with those returning from study abroad numbering 134,800. According to data from the ministry, the number of Chinese students studying abroad and returning home increased by 55,400 and 26,500, respectively. Students studying abroad at their own expense still account for the majority, followed by personnel sponsored by the government and employees sent by their companies. Data showed from 1978 to 2010, the number of Chinese students studying abroad in all areas reached up to more than 1.9 million, 632,000 of whom returned China. Although the People's Daily article did not break down the numbers, quite a few of those Chinese students went to study in the United States, and a sharply increasing number in recent years have come to study at South Korean universities, where a large proportion of the faculty are U.S.-educated.
The article also noted that the number of foreign students studying in China rose to 265,090. They came from 194 countries around the world, but students from neighboring Asian countries accounted for more than 66 percent of the total. Of particular note is that South Korea and the U.S. were the top two countries, in that order, in terms of international students in China during 2010. China's Ministry of Education reportedly is taking steps to optimize the study environment and improve education quality in order to absorb 500,000 international students by the year 2020.
To place the above numbers in the larger global context, data from the accompanying table from a 2004 OECD policy brief are informative.