Ana Ropot (right), 22, a student at Beijing International Studies University, chats with her classmates. Zou Hong / China Daily
As the only foreigner in the tourism management class at Beijing International Studies University, Ana Ropot from Moldavia plans to stay in Beijing after graduation.
"I am looking for a post as a marketing specialist at a tourist company," said Ropot, 22, who gave up a full scholarship at a prestigious university in her home country to start her studies in Beijing three years ago.
Asked whether she is intimidated by the job market competition facing graduates, she said she is preparing a backup to continue her education at a local business school.
Ropot is among a growing number of foreign students who are staying in the city for higher education or employment afterstudying in local universities.
Wei Yizhen, a professor with Beijing Language and Culture University, believes the phenomenon has become more visible in recent years.
"About half my students have chosen to stay in China to explore the country after graduation this year," Wei said.
The number of foreign students coming to the city is also on the rise.
There are 80,000 this year, 9,000 more than last year.
That figure was only 25,000 in 2003, according to Beijing Education Commission.
This year, more than 1,000 foreign students have enrolled in the Department of Chinese Learning.
The number is almost 400 more than seven years ago, Wei said.
"Korean students were once the majority of foreign students at our university. It will be difficult to calculate which country has the majority now," he said.
"I never taught a student from Nepal before, but there is one in my class this year."
"Diversity is what makes campus life so colorful."
He said most students had experience of learning Chinese before they enrolled.
He said Chinese language is not necessarily the most-popular major at some universities.
Chinese culture, Chinese history and economics are also gaining in popularity.
This broadening subject choice is partly seen as a result of government incentives.
Central and local level governments have carried out a series of preferential policies, including offering numerous scholarships, to attract foreign students over recent years.
About 6,000 foreign students, who enrolled last year in Beijing's universities received full sponsorships from the central government, roughly one-third of Chinese Government Scholarship awardees nationwide.
The total sponsorship money allocated was 650 million yuan, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education.
The Confucius Institute, which teaches Chinese language and culture overseas, will provide 3,000 "teaching Chinese to foreigners scholarships" to foreign teachers and students this year, up from last year's 1,000.
The Chinese government also signed a joint statement with US during President Barack Obama's visit in November last year.
It says that 100,000 students from US would come to study in China over the next four years.
(China Daily 04/27/2010 page36)