PULLMAN – China hosts five times the number of international students that it welcomed 10 years ago, and WSU is among the contributors.
According to WSU International Programs data, China is the fifth most popular destination for WSU students studying abroad, with 36 students there during the 2007-2008 academic year. In contrast, one WSU student studied in China in 2002-2003.
Chinese universities are establishing partnerships with universities in other countries to encourage international students to study in China. This effort to internationalize, coupled with a growing American interest in China, has increased the number of WSU students choosing to study there, said Candace Chenoweth, director of Education Abroad at International Programs.
“The increase has been driven by faculty-led programs in the College of Business and elsewhere, as well as the growth in the number of students studying Chinese here,” she said.
Looking to the future
Universities around the world are reporting similar increases in the number of students studying in China. According to a September issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (see ONLINE @ http://chronicle.com and search “fifth importer”), the Chinese Ministry of Education reported the number of international students at Chinese universities rose from 39,000 in 1997 to 195,000 in 2007. Chinese officials have outlined plans to increase that number to 500,000 students by 2020.
This growing interest in China is no surprise to Christopher Lupke, associate professor of Chinese at WSU.
“When I arrived at WSU eight years ago, there was not a single student from our program studying in China,” he said. “Now we have 10 students in full-year immersion programs in Chinese universities.”
“A lot of these students are thinking pragmatically,” said Richard Porter, director of the International Students and Scholars Program. “They see that understanding China is good for their future employment.”
Largest WSU group
While the number of WSU students going to China has seen recent growth, the number of Chinese students at WSU and other American universities has remained consistently high.
“Here at WSU, the Chinese student population has traditionally been the largest, or one of the largest, on campus,” Porter said. According to the fall 2008 report from International Programs, about one-fifth of the international students at WSU are Chinese. Including ethnic Chinese students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries would boost that percentage to about one-third of the total.
While Chinese students are expected to continue to study at American universities, the big change is the recent emphasis on opening Chinese universities to international students.
“Chinese universities and students are now reaching out,” Porter summarized. “Part of the reason is economic, since international students bring money to China, and part of the reason is political, since this increases Chinese influence and the understanding of Chinese culture.”