Four foreign students studying in China pose in a shopping mall in Beijing. [Xinhua Photo]
China has the fifth highest number of overseas students in the world, Ministry of Education officials said on Friday.
Only the US, UK, France and Germany play host to more international students. China has drawn more than 1.23 million students from abroad since launching its reform and opening up in the late 1970s, Vice-Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng told a press conference.
"More overseas students are opting for long-term, formal education in China in a wide range of subjects, from language and culture to science, engineering and medicine," Zhang said. "They are from developing and developed countries both." "With a good social environment, fast economic growth and upgraded quality of education, China has become more attractive for foreign students."
The number of overseas students studying in China reached a record 195,000 last year, up 20 percent from 2006, according to ministry figures.
China has signed mutual diploma recognition contracts with 33 countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Last year, students from 188 countries and regions got admitted to China's institutions in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.