China’s regional hub for international students: BRICS & Emerging Economies rankings 2015-16

The best universities in 'emerging economies' are clustered in one country, quickly becoming a hub for international students
December 2 2015

peking_university.jpg

Lion at Peking University
Peking University's west gate

The dominance of China’s universities in the BRICS & Emerging Economies rankings 2016 highlights a wider trend for international students to consider China’s top institutions alongside leading universities elsewhere in the world.

Half the universities in the top 10 are Chinese, with the prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University taking the first and second place respectively.

While Asian students have long travelled to the US, UK, Canada and Australia in search of the best education, an increasing number of students from India and Pakistan are opting for higher education opportunities in China, propelling the country into a regional hub for mobile students.


Find out more about Asia's top universities


India has a total of 16 institutions in the BRICS ranking this year, behind only China and Taiwan. But none of India’s leading universities features in the top 10, suggesting that an Indian student seeking a world-class education in the region is more likely to make the journey to China than stay at home.

Since 2010, the number of Indian students in China has increased by 50 per cent, from less than 10,000 students to more than 13,500 students in 2014.

Only two universities in Pakistan made it into the BRICS & Emerging Economies top 200, both in the lower half. The number of Pakistani students in China has accelerated over the past years, rising more than 80 per cent since 2010 to reach almost the same number of Indian students.

The biggest international community at Chinese universities is still South Korean students, who made up 16.7 per cent of the international students in China in 2014. But their number has fallen every year since 2010 except in 2012, when there was a small increase. The growth of Indonesian students in China has also slowed down over the same period.

Overall, China aims to reach a target of half a million international students by 2020. However, with the year-on-year increase in international students starting to wane, China’s 39 ranked institutions, among others, will likely be looking to attract more and more students from India and Pakistan to raise the overall number from where it currently stands at 377,000.

Only the top two Chinese universities are counted among the best 200 universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

But 27 Chinese institutions make it into the upper half of the BRICS ranking, which features 200 universities from 35 countries, including Turkey, Czech Republic, Thailand and Chile alongside Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

China hosted the third highest number of international students anywhere in the world last year, behind only the US and the UK, and just ahead of Germany.

While 64 per cent of international students in the US study science, technology, engineering or business subjects, 55 per cent of international students in China study a humanities subject.

The motivations for studying a STEM or business subject abroad clearly differ from the motivations for studying internationally for a humanities degree. Given that more than 200,000 international students study a humanities subject in China, compared with only 17,500 international students in the US, it seems that China is a more attractive option for humanities students looking for international experience.

See the full BRICS & Emerging Economies rankings table here.

Data about international students are from The Institute of International Education.

BRICS Rank 2015-16

World University Rank 2015-16

Country

Institution

1

42

China

Peking University

2

47

China

Tsinghua University

3

161

Russian Federation

Lomonosov Moscow State University

4

120

South Africa

University of Cape Town

5

167

Taiwan

National Taiwan University

6

201–250

South Africa

University of the Witwatersrand

7

201–250

China

University of Science and Technology of China

8

251–300

China

Zhejiang University

9

251–300

Brazil

University of São Paulo

10

301–350

China

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

11

301–350

South Africa

Stellenbosch University

12

301–350

Taiwan

National Chiao Tung University

13

251–300

Turkey

Koç University

14

251–300

China

Nanjing University

15

301–350

Taiwan

National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech)

16

251–300

India

Indian Institute of Science

17

201–250

China

Fudan University

18

201–250

Russian Federation

Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University

19

251–300

Taiwan

National Tsing Hua University

20

251–300

Russian Federation

Tomsk Polytechnic University

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