International students should find increasing levels of investment in tertiary education to be a compelling reason to study in China.
In 2012, China reached its target of spending 4% of GDP on education. And it is currently investing US$250 billion a year in “human capital” (source: New York Times), which includes the subsidy of education for young people moving from rural to urban areas, in an effort to lessen the gap between the educated elite and rural laborers.
The number of colleges and universities in China has doubled in the last decade to 2,409. The country’s current five-year plan, which extends to 2020, focuses on modernizing and strengthening its higher education system to appeal to international students, and many Chinese universities are focusing on developing technologies that increase competitiveness with the West.
Key initiatives include Project 211, which aims to bring 100 Chinese universities up to a world-class standard, and Project 985, which aims to create an even more elite group of universities. Project 985 has resulted in the creation of the C9 league, which has ambitions of becoming something like the US Ivy League.