MALAYSIA: Asian universities court students nearby

Attending a university overseas has long been an aspiration for many Chinese, writes Liz Gooch for The New York Times. "My father said: 'Why do you want to stay in China? Open your mind, look at the world,'" said Bao Qianqian, a 25-year-old woman from the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo. The predictable choices for her might have been Australia and Britain, where her two sisters have studied. But Bao decided on a destination that would keep her closer to home and cost substantially less, while giving her the chance to improve her English and converse with Chinese speakers. She chose Malaysia, where she is a third-year business student at HELP University College.

With the appetite for higher education showing no signs of abating among the growing Asian middle class, some Asian countries are seeking to attract more students like Bao. In 2007, more than 2.8 million students were enrolled in institutions of higher education outside their home country, a 53 percent increase from 1999, according to a Unesco report released in July. The United States, Britain and other Western countries continue to draw the most Asian students, but the report showed that Asians were increasingly attending Asian universities.

In East Asia and the Pacific, 42% of students who left home remained in their region in 2007, according to the 2009 edition of Unesco's Global Education Digest.
Full report on The New York Times site