Chinese students now constitute the largest demographic among international students at CSU, marking a sharp increase in the populationâ€™s presence on campus over the past 10 years.
The universityâ€™s office of institutional research reported that of the 1,133 international students on campus, approximately 266, or 23.5 percent, are from China. During the 2001-2002 academic year, Chinese students only made up 12.6 percent.
â€œRight now, we have a record number of (international) students on campus,â€ said Mark Hallett, a director within the department of international programs who oversees foreign student enrollment.
In November 2010, the Institute of International Education reported that Chinese student enrollment in the U.S. increased by 30 percent to a total of nearly 1,280,000 students — more than 18 percent of the total international student population — making China the leading sending country.
One of the main reasons for the increase, Hallett said, is the fact that thereâ€™s an emerging middle class that can afford to send their children to study abroad.
â€œYou didnâ€™t have that 10 or 15 years ago,â€ he added.
CSU has also established strategic partnerships with prestigious Chinese universities, like East China Normal University (ECNU).
The school is part of exclusive national programs under the Ministry of Education and has a faculty of more than 4,000 with 14 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences or Engineering, two state key laboratories, one national field observation and research station, seven key labs or engineering centers and seven key research bases for Humanities and Social Sciences and one Base for Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Education.
ECNU already has 37 students enrolled at CSU, earning bachelorâ€™s degrees while receiving more than $300,000 in annual scholarship support from CSU. The two schools have also established a Joint Research Institute for New Energy and the Environment in Shanghai, China.
China has been largely unable to meet increasing demand for higher education. In 2010, 9,570,000 students took the Chinese college entrance exam, whereas only six million university slots were available.
â€œChina is trying to develop its higher education sector to accommodate a larger number of students who can attain a higher education degree,â€ Hallet said.
The interest in receiving an American education is so great in China that an industry has been created around it. Approximately 400 businesses are currently licensed by the Chinese government to fill out a Chinese undergraduateâ€™s application to U.S. colleges and universities.
As American institutions collaborate with foreign undergraduates, Hallett believes solutions to common problems can be found.
â€œPollution. Environmental degradation. Water issues,â€ he said. â€œWe canâ€™t really be an island anymore. We have to be cooperating on global issues like these.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at email@example.com.