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China Daily Website

College lessons in attracting foreign students

Updated: 2012-05-19 02:55
By Zhang Yue ( China Daily)

Nankai University, one of China's most prestigious universities, will have some of its most popular degree courses taught in English in the coming semester to attract more foreign students.

The courses are about Chinese society, politics, culture and economics given by more than 20 Chinese teachers.

"We want to attract more students from European countries as well as the United States by teaching in English," said Li Dan, who works in the Tianjin-based university’s office for international academic exchanges.

College lessons in attracting foreign students
Ghanaian student Tweneboah-Koduah Priscilla Akosua learns Yueju Opera, which is popular in East China, at Jiangsu University in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, last week. YANG YU / FOR CHINA DAILY

Giving courses in English for international students has been a good way for Chinese universities to attract more foreign students.

Tianjin Medical University, for example, has offered courses in English for international students since 1997, and has established a medical practice exclusively for international students, all in English. More than 1,200 international students have graduated from the university.

The University of International Business and Economics in Beijing held 10 job fairs for its international students last year, and just last month set up a Foreign Students Career Advisory Center.

"We are trying our best to attract more international students as a source of revenue for the university, and to enhance our university's international reputation," said Li Yong, head of the university's Foreign Students Career Advisory Center.

Li said that the 2,900 international students studying at the university bring more than 40 million yuan ($6.3 million) to the university every year.

For example, while an MBA for international students taught in Chinese costs 33,000 yuan, the same degree taught in English costs 120,000 yuan.

The university recruited 2,500 international students in 2010. That increased to 2,900 this year, accounting for more than 20 percent of the university's enrollment.

Alix Honore, a 26-year-old student from Dominica who graduated with a master’s degree in finance this year, has received a few job offers from companies with the help of the university’s career center.

"Since earlier this year, the career center has taken us to tour around five companies in Beijing and Tianjin, where they can talk with the recruitment department and leave resumes.

"My classmates and I have been a bit worried about how to land a good job, as we have to compete with Chinese students from the same major in Chinese, and sometimes we cannot express ourselves properly in Chinese," Honore said. "Organized trips to the companies help employers know us better."

She also thinks that the opening of English courses would be an interesting move.

"It took me seven years learning in China to speak survival Chinese," Honore said. "And many of my classmates' Chinese is worse than mine, and they need language tutors in their first year here. It would be really helpful for us to understand China with courses provided in English."

But Grant Gilreath, a 27-year-old law student from the US, said though he is interested in working in China, he does not find courses given in English attractive.

He is now on a six-month exchange program at Tsinghua University, and takes all of his courses with Chinese students.