Working Paper 92
International Student Education in China and its Connections with Local and Global Society
Published August 2023

China has become the third largest host in the world for international students. China’s international student education (ISE) is often seen as a way of exercising soft power and legitimizing Chinese universities’ status in the global market of World-Class universities. However, we have limited knowledge about the connection of ISE to the core missions of the higher education institutions (HEIs) and the role of ISE in serving society. This paper examines the connection of China’s ISE to the local, national, regional, and global society by synthesizing multiple types of data on international education and the international student experience in China including national policies, institutional documents, and interviews with higher education administrators and students. The discussion also focuses on the ways in which the interplay of political, economic, and social-cultural forces shapes the relationships between China’s ISE and society.