The 2018 survey was conducted at a national research university in the Midwest and a regional university also in the Midwest. However, the number of valid cases from the regional university was too small, thus not included in this report. This national research university had about 40,000 students enrolled in Fall 2017, among whom 3,696 were from the People’s Republic of China. Chinese students may be found in all colleges, schools, and departments of the university, with about 61 percent being undergraduates and 39 percent graduate students. This university also had 484 visiting scholars from China as of Spring 2018. We recruited participants for the survey through e-mails sent out directly by the Office of the Registrar to all Chinese students and visiting scholars. The respondents followed a web link in the e-mail to reach the online survey. The surveys were in Chinese, with the questions and answers translated into English for this report. A total of 1,008 Chinese students and visiting scholars from China answered the survey, which was a response rate of about 23 percent. The sample is representative of the Chinese student and visiting scholar population at this university in terms of colleges and student status, with slightly more respondents in engineering schools and slightly fewer in the business school.
China has been the leading country of origin of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions since 2009 (Institute of International Education 2016). In 2015, Chinese students reached the unprecedented high number of 304,040, almost triple the number five years earlier. They represented the 11th consecutive year of rising numbers of Chinese students in the U.S. The 2015 number accounts for 31.2 percent of the entire international student population in the United States. “Never before in history have so many Chinese students studied at so many American universities” (Tea Leave Nation Staff 2015).
To help understand this significant phenomenon, the Center on Religion and the Global East (CRGE) at Purdue University carried out the first Survey of Chinese Students in the United States in spring 2016. In this general report, we profile the social characteristics of Chinese students, summarize the key findings of their social, cultural, and spiritual life, and provide the methodological information and detailed tables of this survey.