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USTC Sees Rise in Intl Enrollment

Dec 23, 2016     Email"> PrintText Size

University attracts students from around the world with scholarships and high-tech programs

After Ammar Hawbani passed the college entrance examination in Yemen with high marks in 2005, he was awarded a national scholarship by the Chinese government and came to China for his university studies later that year.

Instead of studying in linguistic and cultural programs, which have been chosen by many foreign students to China, Hawbani has been studying information science and technology for 11 years at the University of Science and Technology of China, based in Hefei, Anhui province. He is now a post-doctoral researcher focusing on wireless sensor networks.

Although it was the China Scholarship Council that decided which university to accept Hawbani for his undergraduate studies in 2005, he decided to stay on with the university to further his studies after he received his bachelor's degree in 2009.

FOREIGN STUDENTS pose for a picture at the First Campus International Cultural Festival of USTC, which was held last month. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

University attracts students from around the world with scholarships and high-tech programs

Since around 2009, USTC has been given full freedom to enroll foreign students. It was also around that time that most of the departments and laboratories in the university began to build their English-language websites.

This change means a lot for students who dream of studying in USTC. Abhishek Narayan Mondal from Calcutta, India, is one such student.

"When I was a postgraduate student of science in India, I read a lot of papers on ion exchange membranes by Xu Tongwen, now my academic supervisor at USTC, and heard a lot about the university," said Mondal.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017, released by the London-based magazine Times Higher Education on September 21, USTC ranks No 153 among the world's best universities and third on the Chinese mainland, only behind Beijing-based Peking University and Tsinghua University.

Degree applicants

Mondal submitted his application to the university in 2014.

After some strict evaluation, Mondal was admitted by USTC with financial support from a scholarship provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

When Hawbani came to USTC in 2005, there were barely more than 20 foreign students in the university and a little more than 140,000 foreign students in the country.

Over the last decade, especially since the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, was proposed in 2013, more and more foreign students from developing countries have been flocking to China.

"Nowadays, there are more than 500 foreign students studying at USTC, with most of them from Belt and Road countries," said Jiang Jiajie, deputy director of USTC's office of international cooperation.

Jiang said that some of the country's top universities see thousands of foreign students, though most of them are just attending short-term courses, especially those providing Chinese language and culture education.

Data released by the Ministry of Education shows that more than 53 percent of foreign students in the country in 2015 were enrolled in short-term programs.

To set itself apart from the other universities, Jiang said USTC has been accessible only to applicants for bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees, and that most of them have been for the science and technology and engineering fields.

While USTC was originally founded to assist in the development of the country's science and technology, it also aims to promote progress in developing countries by educating its young, talented professionals.

"Among the students in USTC, merely three were undergraduate students, while the rest are all postgraduate and doctoral students," said Jiang.

The university enrolled more than 210 foreign students in 2016, while it had received more than 2,000 applications from around the world.

"Only those who passed a very strict evaluation could win the competition", said Jiang.


Multiple high-level scholarships have been available to foreign students attending USTC, with the CAS-TWAS President's Fellowship providing the most financial support to the winners.

The fellowship provides each doctoral foreign student with 7,000 yuan ($1,015) per month in the first year, and 8,000 yuan per month in the remaining three years.

The Chinese Government Scholarship provides each foreign postgraduate and doctoral student with 3,000 yuan and 3,500 yuan per month, respectively.

In addition, those who fail to get the two scholarships can apply for scholarships provided by USTC, which have been granted to more and more foreign students from Belt and Road countries.

All scholarship winners are exempt from tuition fees.  


A FOREIGN STUDENT chats with her Chinese friend in front of the statue of Guo Moruo, the fi rst president of USTC. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Should I stay or should I go now?

Ammar Hawbani got his PhD from the University of Science and Technology of China in March 2016. Instead of returning to Yemen, his home country, Hawbani is now doing his post-doctoral research, which is expected to last until 2019, at the university.

Having been focused on wireless sensor network technology since 2005, when he came to USTC for his undergraduate study, Hawbani is now working on multiple projects, which also include other foreign students at the university.

One of the projects is called the Wireless Body Area Network, which is focused on monitoring human body functions and characteristics in relation to the surrounding environment with devices that can be placed in, on or around the body.

"After completing my post-doctoral research at USTC, I may still seek to work at the university, or I may go to Europe to continue my academic career," said Hawbani.

In contrast, Muhammad Hamayun, who got his PhD degree recently from USTC, will soon return to Pakistan, his home country.

As a doctor of public affairs management, Hamayun said he wants to serve his country with what he has learned at USTC.

Hamayun said the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan will provide him a position at a local college in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

"To have a PhD degree is still kind of rare in Pakistan, but more importantly, what I have learned in USTC over the last few years will be helpful in promoting the educational development of Pakistan," said Hamayun.

"Most of the foreign graduates of USTC have chosen to return to their home country. Such graduates have been playing very important roles in promoting not only the development of their own country, but also the friendly relations between their countries and China," said Jiang Jiajie, deputy director of USTC's Office of International Cooperation.

"There are also some graduates, like Hawbani for example, who seek to stay in China or other countries for better academic careers," said Jiang. (China Daily)


(Editor: LIU Jia)



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