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The world’s new academic bazaar

Thursday,Jan 18, 2018

From: The Hindu


Lakes in some of the famous university campuses in Beijing — Peking and Tsinghua among them — have frozen as sub-zero temperatures are now routine in the Chinese capital. Yet, soon after daybreak, the campuses come alive as young scholars, braving the cold, rush to the classrooms. Many of these students are foreigners, as some of the top universities, mainly in Beijing’s Haidian district, are beginning to acquire a distinct international flavour.

At the Beijing Language and Culture University, China’s premier language university, many from various global destinations — Spain, Italy, Indonesia, Brazil and India — have descended for a short-duration course in the Chinese language. Many of them are taking advantage of the holiday season back home to do a one-month elementary stint in Mandarin.

Some others are staying longer for advanced courses. “I am learning the language because I want to work in China. Jobs in Europe are drying up but China appears to be a different story,” says Andreas, a student from Spain. In tune with China’s opening up to the world, Indian students are also making their presence felt on Chinese campuses. “I have an electronics engineering degree from New Delhi but I decided to explore other fields outside science and engineering. Peking University offered me the Yenching scholarship,” says Ravish Bhatia.

Students qualifying for the Yenching scholarship — a Rhodes-like scholarship with Chinese characteristics — become part of Peking University’s well-known Yenching Academy. During their stay in China, they pursue an interdisciplinary Master’s programme on the country — its past, present and future direction. Scholars availing the fully-funded scholarship can design their own academic path, choosing from six academic clusters and a range of extracurricular activities.

Among foreign students, South Koreans comprise the highest numbers followed by the Americans. Indians are among the top five foreign nationalities pursuing higher studies in China.

With jobs drying up in the West and getting a work visa becoming bothersome, a large number of Indian students are heading to China’s shores. Apparently, there are now 18,171 Indian students in China, 156 more than those residing in the U.K. A study conducted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), concluded that India was among the top countries sending students to China in 2016-17.



Rising deglobalisation


China seems to have benefited from the growing “populism”, especially in the U.S. and Britain, which makes these countries appear less foreigner-friendly. The CCG study, released last month, highlights that “the rising deglobalisation represented by U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory”, along with the concerns over “Brexit”, are among the reasons that explain the outbound drop among international students in the traditional academic bazaars of the U.S. and the U.K.

“I think people prefer China more nowadays because the cost of education is cheaper here than the U.K. or the U.S. Many of the Chinese universities are now ranked in the top 150 globally. The infrastructure and facilities in China are wonderful. It’s very safe and as an Asian country, people value and respect each other’s culture,” CGTN Digital quoted Ashwini Deshpande, an Indian student from Pune who is currently pursuing a language degree at Ningbo University, in China’s Zhejiang Province, as saying.


From The Hindu,2018-1-13