It has been more than 100 years since China began to send its students and scholars to study abroad. Though with different scales and various forms during different stages of history, the underlining principle remains:
Before the foundation of the People' Republic of China, there were already a lot of Chinese going abroad for further studies in order to bring home knowledge that could help build a stronger country. After the establishment of new China, bearing in mind the ideas of fighting against the capitalist Western Bloc and speeding up the development of a socialist country, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the central government decided to send students and scholars to the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries to study the advanced S&T and management skills. Beginning from the 1960s, with the change of international political climate, the central government accordingly made adjustments in policies related to sending students and scholars abroad. In 1978, with strategic insight, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping made the important decision of expanding the scales of sending students and scholars abroad. Based on the past experience, in 1992, the CPC Central Committee and central government promulgated the guideline for students and scholars studying abroad, that is---to support students and scholars studying abroad, to encourage them to return to China after their completion of studies and guarantee them the freedom of coming and going.
I.General information of students and scholars studying abroad since the reform and opening up in 1978:
Since the reform and opening up in 1978, the work related to students and scholars studying abroad has seen rapid developments and now it serves as a window for China's reform and opening up as well as for the cultural exchanges between China and other countries. In harmony with the socio-economic development, a managing and implementing system for the work related to students and scholars studying abroad has been set up in higher education institutes (HEIs) as well as in S&T research institutes, from the national level to local levels. This system mainly consists of three complementary channels for students and scholars, namely, state-funded, employer-funded and self-funded.
In 2003, the total number of students and scholars studying abroad is 117,300, among which 3,002 people are state-funded, 5,144 employer-funded and 109,200 self-funded. In the same year, a total number of 20,100 students and scholars returned from overseas studying, among which 2,638 are state funded, 4,292 employer-funded and 13,200 self-funded.
From 1978 to 2003, a total number of 700,200 Chinese students and scholars studied in 108 countries and regions all over the world, covering almost all disciplines. Both the quantity and scale was unprecedented in the history of China. During the same period, a total of 172,800 returned. As for 527,400 who haven't returned yet, 356,600 are still studying, doing researches or visiting as scholars in foreign HEIs.
As for the geographic distribution of the overseas Chinese students and scholars, the statistics for destination in 2003 is as follows: 10.5% to Asia, 1.8% to Africa, 49.8% to Europe, 15.4% to North America and Latin America, and 22.5% to Oceania. Among those who have returned in 2003, 25.1% are from Asia, 0.2% from Africa, 42.7% from Europe, 22.7% from North America and Latin America, and 9.3% from Oceania. As for those who are still studying abroad, 22% are in Asia, 0.6% in Africa, 28.1% in Europe, 36.4% in North America and Latin America, and 12.9% in Oceania.
II.General information of the efforts of the Ministry of Education to attract outstanding students and scholars abroad to return to China or make contributions for China through various ways:
The CPC Central Committee and the central government have always been attaching great importance to the work related to students and scholars studying abroad. And the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been strictly implementing the guideline of "supporting students and scholars studying abroad, encouraging them to return to China after their completion of studies and guarantee them the freedom of coming and going". Meanwhile, the MOE has taken effective measures to attract outstanding students and scholars to return to China or to make contributions through various ways.
The returned students and scholars play an leading role in areas like education, S&T, high-tech industries, finance, insurance, trade and management etc, and serve as a driving force for the country's economic and social development. At same time, many students and scholars staying abroad take initiatives to make contributions to China through various ways, such as giving lectures during short-term visit to China, having academic exchanges, conducting joint researches, bringing in projects and investments and providing information and technical consultancy etc. Accordingly, governments at all levels as well as enterprises and institutions have all come up with supportive policies in this regard. Relevant institutions, special funds and talent-reserves have been established to facilitate the returnees in their careers. As for the MOE, it has been conducting some exemplary programs to attract students and scholars to return as well as to facilitate their careers. The main programs are as follows:
"The Fund for Returnees to Launch S&T Researches": Since its inception in 1990, the fund has provided financial support to 24 batches of altogether 10,926 returnees, with an amount of more than 350,000,000 RMB.
"Program for Training Talents toward the 21st Century": This program targets the outstanding young teachers who have returned from overseas studies. Since its inception in 1993, 11 batches of 922 people are supported with an amount of more than 180,000,000 RMB.
"The Chunhui (literally, Spring Bud) Program": The program targets those returnees with doctoral degree and with outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Since its inception in 1996, the program has funded more than 8000 individuals and 90 groups of scholars and researchers to serve the country on short-term visit.
"Changjiang Scholar Incentive Program": The program provides financial support to young and middle-aged leading scholars of certain disciplines who have studied abroad and are invited by Chinese HEIs as Special Professors or Lecture Professors. Altogether 537 scholars are supported through this program, amounting to 93% of the total number of Special Professors and Lecture Professors.
"Program of Academic Short-return for Scholars and Research Overseas": This program finances those outstanding Chinese scholars studying or doing researches abroad to give lectures or do researches in 28 key HEIs during their short holidays or returns to China. Since its reception in 2001, the program has aided 6 batches of 104 such scholars.
III.Some more measures MOE is going to take in an endeavor to strengthen topnotch talents training and attract Chinese scholars overseas to return and work in China or serve the country through various ways:
1.Reform the mechanism and send more HEI-based scholars to study or do research abroad. Within the framework of state-funded students or scholars, 300 research personnel, from the "Changjiang Scholar Incentive Program", "Innovative Corps of HEIs Program" and "Young Leaders of Various Disciplines Supporting Program", will be selected to do joint researches in high-level foreign universities; 5000 young backbone teachers will be selected to do researches (including post-doctoral researches) or study for doctoral degrees.
2.Innovate the ways of attracting topnotch scholars to return and work in China with more flexibility. Make full use of the network of www.liuxue.net, which serves as a platform for both the employers and the students and scholars studying abroad; the "Expressway Mechanism" is to be strengthened to build direct connection between Chinese HEIs and possible returnees; other flexible measures shall also be taken in such effort.
3.Promote more flexible programs for the students and scholars studying overseas to serve the country, through academic exchanges, joint researches, talents training and so on. In such an effort, the Chunhui Program should be strengthened.
4.Strengthen the development of enterprises park for those returned from overseas studies and establish fine marketing mechanism and comprehensive circumstances, through the "Supporting Fund for Starting Enterprises for Outstanding Talents who Return from Overseas Studies" and favorable policies concerning the procedures for starting an enterprise.
5.In an effort to better carry out the principle of "guarantee them (the Chinese students and scholars studying or doing research abroad) the freedom of coming and going" the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Public Security have promulgated polices concerning issuing 5-year stay and multi-visas to the outstanding talents working for Chinese HEIs and S&T institutions and are considering granting permanent residence for those topnotch talents.
6.Help the returnees' children to study in local schools and help their spouses to hunt jobs. The Ministry of Education is making efforts to coordinate with relevant ministries and sectors in such regards for the convenience of the returnees.
7.To cope with the "Western Development" campaign, the work related to students and scholars studying abroad has also come up with new ideas, that is, to establish cooperating mechanism with the Western regions. The Ministry of Education plans to bring more bilateral or multilateral investment and cooperative projects to the West, to bring more state-funded programs for studying abroad to the West and to bring more returnees to the West.
With China's further reform and opening up, the work related to students and scholars studying abroad will surely play a greater role in the economic and social development of China.