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Because China // episode 4

How Western universities are changing to meet the needs of their many Chinese students

Member exclusive by Isabelle Niu

This story is part of our ongoing series on how China is reshaping our world.

In 1978, a delegation from the People’s Republic of China negotiated with the US government over 13 days to send Chinese students to American universities. The two countries had just announced they were normalizing diplomatic relations. The US eventually agreed to accept 500 students from China by 1979.

Today, there are over 360,000 students from mainland China in the US, making up a third of all international students. Unlike those Chinese students from the 1970s, the majority of Chinese students today are self-funded, with limited access to financial aid and scholarships. In 2017, Chinese international students contributed about $14 billion to the US economy.