China has awakened: is international education ready?

The following quote about China is often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821): 'Let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world.' China has now awakened; is she then shaking the world, and especially the world of education, the context of this volume? Although the influence of China is far from that of an earthquake yet, there are signs that tremors are already felt. First, the most important international benchmarks for education, the so-called PISA tests, have placed China on the world map for education. Shanghai took part in the 2012 tests and obtained the best results. Of course Shanghai is not China, but Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangdong (China's most populated province) will also take part in the 2015 PISA studies. Second, China has started - like many other countries - to export her education. The Department for Education in England is currently recruiting mathematics teachers from Shanghai to give master classes in centres of excellence or 'maths hubs'. In higher education, China is building a campus in Malaysia - the first branch of a Chinese university abroad. Xiamen University Malaysian campus will open in 2015. All the courses will be delivered in English.

Of course, when one thinks of China and education, one cannot but think of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and thousands of Chinese teachers and academic staff who populate university campuses around the world. Today's figures are amazing. According to the Center for China & Globalization (2013), Chinese overseas students account for 14% of all international students in the world. More than 100,000 Chinese have studied abroad annually since 2002, with an increase at about 20% each year. In total, between 1978 and 2011, 2.25 million students were sent abroad. In 2012, 399,600 Chinese students went to study abroad, which represents an increase of 17.65% from 2011 (Dervin, 2014). Needless to say, the omnipresence of these students on international campuses has an impact on students, staff, the economy, fields of study and research, personal and professional links within and outside universities, future relations with China, and so forth.

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