The Chinese mainland received 162,695 exchange students from 184 countries and regions in 2006, the highest number since the founding of New China in 1949.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education (MOE) show exchange students studied in 519 universities and colleges in 31 Chinese provinces and regions. The number of exchange students was up 15.3 percent from 2005.
The Chinese government awarded scholarships to 8,484 exchange students, up 14.9 percent over the previous year. Self-funded students totaled 154,211, up 13.2 percent.
The number studying for more than six months totaled 119,733, and Asian students accounted for 74.33 percent of the exchange students, the biggest proportion, with 12.71 percent from Europe, 9.6 percent from America, 2.3 percent from Africa and 1.07 percent from Oceania.
The Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, Vietnam and Indonesia were the five biggest source countries. Students majoring in liberal arts totaled 114,846, more than engineering majors.
An official with the MOE indicated that more students came to China for academic degrees, as the number in 2006 increased by 22.31 percent over the previous year.
He said receiving exchange students was an important part of international educational exchange and cooperation.
In 2006, the MOE expanded the channels for foreign exchange students, urged foreign governments and Chinese enterprises to set up scholarships, and improved management mechanisms for exchange students.
The MOE statistics show China received more than 1.04 million exchange students from 1950 to 2006.