China as a Study Destination for Vietnamese Students


According to China’s Ministry of Education, the number of foreign students reached a record high of more than 260,000 in 2010. Earlier this year, statistics from the ministry published by the China Daily revealed that 265,090 students from 194 countries were studying in China, an 8% increase from the 240,000 students in 2009.  The top sending country is South Korea followed by the United States, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia, India, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. 

The ministry plans to use cooperative educational programs to attract 500,000 students to China by 2020, an ambitious goal that, if realized, would catapult the country into the ranks of the world’s leading hosts of international students. 

Reasons for Vietnamese students to study in China?  It’s…

  • Asia (i.e., cultural similarities)
  • China (important)
  • close
  • relatively inexpensive

In addition, as a tonal language, (spoken) Chinese is easier to learn than, say, English.  (Reading and writing is another matter altogether, since Vietnamese is written in the Latin alphabet, thanks to a 17th century French Jesuit missionary lexicographer by the name of Alexander de Rhodes.)

Anecdotally, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of Chinese institutions coming to Vietnam to recruit students in recent years.  For example, some colleagues from a nationally ranked Chinese school recently asked me for my advice on student recruitment and in-country articulation programs. 

So, the question of the week is this:  Can you guess how many young Vietnamese are currently studying in China and what China’s rank is among all destination countries?  Hint:  There are more Vietnamese students in China than Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the UK combined. 

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