Sep 14, 2018 (China Knowledge) - China’s economy is not the only reason to seek global attention; the expanding scientific education base is also luring many international intellectuals and students. Unlike in the past when foreign students would only go to China for language studies students now from across the globe are drawn to the country for technical courses and to obtain professional degrees.
20 years ago, there were just 3.4 million graduates in China. Today, the number has reached to 26 million with 490,000 from overseas in 2017, an increase of 11% from the previous year. The number of foreign degree students reached 241,000, up 15% year on year.
The Chinese government has been trying to build its capability in scientific research to provide another avenue for growth. These efforts can be seen in the ranking of Chinese universities and scholarly publications abroad. Eleven of the top 100 universities globally are Chinese universities and the number of Chinese global publications in physical sciences, engineering and math quadrupled between 2000 and 2016. By 2016, the Chinese share of global publications in science exceeded that of the U.S.
Apart from just quantity, the quality of Chinese publications has also seen improvement. China’s field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) has risen from 0.78 in 2012 to just below the world average of 1 in 2017. Comparatively, the FWCI of the U.S. has dropped from 1.47 to 1.34 in the same period of time. If this trend continues, China’s FWCI could exceed that of the U.S.’s by 2025. Looking at authorship in Nature and Science, two of the most prestigious scientific journals, 20% of the authors were Chinese.
Part of this recent increase can be attributed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), one of the largest ever overseas investment drives which aims to strengthen China’s exchanges with the rest of the world. Last year 58,600 international students, including pupils from BRI nations, received scholarships from the Chinese government compared to just 8,500 in 2006.
As China transitions from a labor-intensive to a technology-intensive country, being able to turn into a “research” nation will be a key driver. Currently, much of China’s research is focused on scientific fields geared towards economic growth and geostrategic purpose. To maintain at the forefront of science, technology and innovation will have a huge impact on China’s economy and sustainable growth.
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