Chinese benefits lure Thai students

March 8, 2002

Growing numbers of Thai students are enrolling in Chinese universities, attracted by China's growing economic might, low tuition fees and high standard of university education.

They are snapping up courses at undergraduate and graduate levels, in Chinese language, medicine, business and acupuncture. Attractions include the competitive costs and the desire of third-generation Thai-Chinese, who make up most of the students, to rediscover their mother tongue.

Students are heading for universities in China that offer short and long-term language courses. The number of students is expected to double this year as the trend grows.

"The number of Thai students pursuing higher education in China has grown six or seven-fold within the past few years," said Tekhua Pung, director of the international relations centre at the Oriental Culture Academy (OCA), an official Chinese university agency in Thailand.

At the Beijing Language and Culture University, one of the most famous language institutions for overseas students in China, there are about 300 Thai students studying Chinese in full-time courses alone.

Eight universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Hainan, Guangxi and Qingdao deal officially with the OCA agency. Mr Tekhua said growing Thai interest in courses had also prompted some Chinese universities to target Thai students.

China's low tuition fees and living expenses were especially attractive to students from Thailand, Mr Tekhua said. For a one-year language course at a Chinese university, a student pays on average 200,000-350,000 baht (£3,280-£5,740). The sum is enough to cover the costs of all tuition, air fares, accommodation and food.

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