The Chinese mainland has been the second largest source of foreign students at Harvard University for the past seven years, said the prestigious US university.
Among 3,913 international students from 141 countries studying at the university for the 2007-08 academic year, 400, or 10.22 percent, are from the Chinese mainland, second only to 489 Canadians, the Harvard International Office said.
The number of Chinese mainland students at Harvard has increased 81.8 percent in the past 16 years.
More than half of Chinese students there are studying at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAC), while others are scattered across various schools ranging from business to design.
The Chinese mainland once topped the international origin countries at Harvard during academic year 1991-92.
But it was dethroned the following year and ranked between second and fourth until academic year 1999-2000, after which it maintained second place, according to Harvard's International Office. Yongwook Ryu, a South Korean PhD candidate at the Department of Government under GSAC, said he has met a lot of Chinese students on campus.
"They impress me deeply by their hard working and efforts to learn Western civilization," said Ryu, who majored in international politics.
Most Chinese students at Harvard are taking postgraduate courses and focusing on research work, he added.
Zhang Xiaoxia, an undergraduate senior at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication who has applied for Harvard, said the news is very encouraging. "This is recognition from Harvard of the talent of Chinese elites, and now I am more confident about my application," she said.
The number of Chinese mainland students studying in the United States hit a record high in 2007.
About 51,500 student and exchange visitor visas were issued to mainland Chinese in the fiscal year, up 40 percent from 2006 and double the figure in 2004, according to the US Embassy in China.
Also, 22 students from Hong Kong and 117 from Taiwan are studying at Harvard during the current academic year.
Asian countries take up three seats among the five top foreign student sources of Harvard, with South Korea and India ranking third and fourth respectively.