European universities growing in popularity among students

Updated: 2014-03-17 03:16

By Zhang Yue (China Daily)

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While universities in the United States remain the biggest targets for Chinese students who want to pursue study overseas, universities in European countries that teach in a foreign language other than English are becoming increasingly popular.

The 19th China International Education Exhibition Tour opened its first stop over the weekend in Beijing, with more than 400 universities from 20 countries and regions taking part. About 100 were from non-English-speaking countries.

European universities growing in popularity among students 

A student (far left) visits a booth for Australian universities at the 19th China International Education Exhibition Tour in Beijing on Sunday. FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

Some colleges and universities from France have arranged face-to-face interviews with Chinese applicants. Students can bring their language scores and materials proving their school performance to the interviewers and meet the admission staff.

"Interview results may not be a full guarantee for your admission to the university, but a good interview performance will definitely add to your enrollment score," said Shu Bourgeon, international officer from ESC Rennes School of Business in France.

Zhang Wan, a Beijing university student who helps out at the reception desk of the French universities' exhibition area, said that more than 400 student applicants made appointments for face-to-face interviews with the 22 universities and institutions from France at the exhibition.

"This has been my second time working here as a volunteer," she said. "I've noticed that the numbers have increased, although I don't really know by how many," she said.

The major reason for students becoming interested in studying in European countries is that many schools do not charge tuition to international students, and it is a good opportunity for getting a good grasp of a foreign language other than English.

Mu Yi, a 22-year-old senior from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, arrived at the exposition site about 9 am on Saturday, half an hour before the exposition started.

She studies material science of clothing as her major, and minors in international business and trade. She has set her sights on business schools in France for her postgraduate studies.

"I want a combination of knowledge in both fashion materials and international trade, and that's why colleges in France are my best and only choice," she said. "It's great because most schools waive your tuition so that you don't have to spend that much. Most important, you can learn a foreign language while studying there. Speaking fluent English is so common in China."

Mu has been taking French-language classes at school, and also at Alliance francaise en Chine, an education organization in Beijing that offers French courses.

Shu, from ESC Rennes, said this year is the school's second year of attending the exhibition.

"We have about 4,000 students in the school, and about one-third of them are international students," she said.

Chinese students account for about 10 percent of the international students, she said, adding: "We want to expand that number."

Some European countries have been trying to attract Chinese students by simplifying visa applications as well as by providing financial support.

The Netherlands, for example, has just simplified its student visa application for Chinese students by shortening the examination period, and students can mail their application materials instead of handing them in person.

Leewee Chew, a senior lecturer from the University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht in the Netherlands, said that she hopes that Chinese students will further expand their knowledge about studying in the Netherlands.

"What impressed me is that more parents came to us for study inquiries as their children are still at school," she added. "Many of them are still undergraduates, even in high schools."