Overseas later potentially as researchers or highly qualified

Overseas learning
experiences have been considered and promoted as one of most beneficial
experiences for students’ to broaden their outlook and prepare themselves for subsequent
careers and lifestyles in globalised sectors
of the labour market.1
Studying abroad has a long history dating back to the Grand Tour, when the
wealthy young British men took a post-Oxbridge trek through the continental
Europe in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization.2
It has been developing quickly in the past two decades, underpinned by economic
development, increasing mobility, and enhanced information flows. Today, about
five million international students are enrolled in universities worldwide.3

Student mobility has increased
dramatically in a globalizing world for the following reasons. First, the
exploding demand for tertiary education worldwide and the perceived value of
studying at prestigious tertiary education institutions abroad contribute to an
increasing and diversifying flow of international students, ranging from those
who cannot find a place to study in a post-secondary education at home to
students of high academic achievement studying at particularly well-known and
attractive high-quality programmes and institutions.4
Moreover, the educational value associated with a diverse student body, the
substantial revenues that can be earned by expanding education for an international
clientele, along with other economic and political considerations have prompted
some governments and institutions to make major efforts to attract students
from outside their national borders.5
Thus, “internationalization” has become fashionable for tertiary institutions. According
to OECD statistics, 6% of the students enrolled in tertiary education in 2014
were international students.6
Host countries may benefit from the tuition fees and living expenses that international
students pay, and the social and business networks with their home countries
that they help to build. In addition, international students, particularly at
the master’s or doctoral or equivalent level, can contribute to research and
development in the host country, initially as students and later potentially as
researchers or highly qualified professionals.

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In the mobile world of
international students, China is playing increasingly important roles. China is
the world’s largest source market for international students. The Chinese
Ministry of Education reported that more than 523,700 Chinese students went
abroad to study in 2015.7
Indeed, China is a critical player in the foreign student market in the world’s
key destination countries, including USA, Canada, Australia, and UK. China has
been sending far more international students abroad than other source
countries.8
Accordingly, many studies have been undertaken that exploring Chinese students’
motivations, cultural adaption, acculturation, language learning, and other
aspects of their decision making and lives in these key destinations.9

At the same time, China is now
an important international student ‘receiving’ country. In 2001, there were
barely any international students registered in China’s tertiary education institutions
(Figure 1) but, in recent years, China has become one of the top study
destinations for international students, with inbound international students
and scholars rising steadily over the past decade. Mainland China is now the
third most popular destination for international students. It received 442,773 international
students in 2016, including 209,966
students (47% of all international students) for degree studies.10
These international students contribute a great deal to China in terms of
socio-economic and cultural development, and the recruitment of international
students has become an important strategy for sustaining institutional and
national development in China.

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