The number of foreign students in China reached a record high of 223,499 in 2008, a 14.32 percent increase over 2007, an official with the Ministry of Education (MOE) said Wednesday.
Foreign students were attending 592 higher educational institutions throughout the country, Zhang Xiuqin, head of the international cooperation and exchange department said at a press conference in Beijing.
"China has become one of the most popular destinations for foreign students because of its history and culture as well as improving government services," Zhang said.
The Chinese government increased scholarships for foreign students in recent years. In 2008, 13,516 foreign students received scholarship. That's 33.15 percent more than the previous year.
Those scholarships included tuition, housing and medical insurance, Zhang said.
According to the MOE, the Chinese government invested 500 million yuan (71.4 million U.S. dollars) in 2008 to finance foreign students. Recipients received a monthly stipend between 1,400 to 2,000 yuan (200 to 285 U.S. dollars).
Since March of last year, China has been using a database to keep track of every foreign student in the country. It also established an emergency response system especially for the safety of foreign students.
MOE statistics show that the Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan were the top three sources of foreign students in China.