Stats on International Students Studying in China

While thinking about quantitative, non-economic variables that highlight China-Africa ties, I became side-tracked with the ambiguity over just how many African students were studying in China. There were official Ministry of Education (MOE) statistics, it seemed, just none consistently referenced.

In his 2011 HKU seminar presentation, Dr. Adams Bodomo referenced MOE reports on international students in China from 2006 and 2009. Using those pages as my starting point, I used Google (rather than the MOE’s internal search engine) to dig up reports from other years – 2003 up to 2016*, to be precise. I’ve summarized the major stats here, and included links for all the reports found at the bottom of this page.


For more discussion on scholarships specifically given to African students, see here. See also our article in The Conversation for a discussion on the dramatic growth of African students in China.

South Korea has consistently been the #1 country of origin for foreign students studying in China. The US, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia are all up there as well, with India and Pakistan climbing quickly up the ranks. Click here for a full breakdown by country.

Chinese Ministry of Education International Student Reports 2003-2016* and English Translations **

*  The 2010 and 2013 reports were not found. Student numbers for these years were calculated using the percent-growth reported in the 2011 and 2014 reports. Updated 10/17 to include 2016 report.

** These are my personal translations for informational purposes only. In the case of a discrepancy, please refer to the original Mandarin.

*** If you want to cross-reference with the original reports but don’t read Chinese, just do a ctrl-f search on the page for term you’re looking for. For example, to find each mention of Africa use 非洲 and it will jump to each mention of Africa in the report. 亚洲 for Asia, 欧洲 for Europe, 美洲 for the Americas, and 大洋洲 for Oceania.