China's Ministry of Education said Monday that the number of foreign students in the Chinese mainland reached more than 230,000 last year, the highest since the founding of New China.
The figure was up about 6.6 percent from the previous year, the ministry said.
This figure was still far short of the 500,000 target for 2020, set in the country's draft medium-to-long-term education reform and development plan (2010-2020) that was put out for public response last month.
The plan says China will be built into Asia's largest international student destination in ten years.
The foreign students, from 190 countries and regions, studied in about 610 higher educational institutions last year, the ministry said.
Among them, more than 18,000 students obtained scholarships provided by the Chinese government, up about 35 percent, it said, adding that the number of self-supporting students reached nearly 220,000, up 4.7 percent.
About 68 percent of all the foreign students were from Asia, 15 percent from Europe, 10.7 percent from the Americas, five percent from Africa and more than 1.1 percent were from Oceania, it said.
The Republic of Korea, the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, were top ten in the student nationalities list.
Over the past six decades since the founding of New China in 1949, about 1.69 million students across the world came to study in China.