Steven Gist (USA)

ELI 360 in China

by Steven Gist | November 19, 2010 | Steven Gist (USA) 0 Comments

My recent trip to China was productive, as well as educational.  I traveled and worked with Bowen Shen, who does an amazing job of managing the different ELI 360 projects and relationships that exist in China.

One of the primary goals for this trip was to promote several programs that ELI 360 has been instrumental in establishing between schools in China and our partner universities in the U.S.  Bowen and I were able to do this by visiting key administrators, giving presentation and interviewing students.  As a result, we are already working with applicants who will enroll in our partner universities as early as January 2011.IMG_1208

Another goal of this trip was to explore new opportunities and relationships, and, in general, to get a snapshot of the current international student market in China.  What I learned during this time of exploration is that many organizations in China have developed year-long programs that prepare students for study in the U.S.  These programs typically offer English language training along with courses for which U.S. university credit is awarded. Some of these programs provide the opportunity for students to take the ACT at the end of the program.  This is a unique opportunity since the Chinese Ministry of Education does not allow the SAT or the ACT to be offered to the general public in China.  Most Chinese students have to travel to Hong Kong or Singapore to take the SAT.

Some high schools are offering programs using AP courses, and there seems to be increased interest in using AP in China.  One Chinese education expert estimated that there are now about 150 high schools that have received approval from College Board to offer AP courses.

The increase in so-called U.S. pathway programs is a response to the rapid growth of the Chinese undergraduate market in recent years. The weakening U.S. dollar, higher student visa issuance rates to the U.S. and increased wealth in China have fueled much of this growth.  It has also been stimulated by the fact that Australian and UK education have become more expensive while, at the same time, immigration policies have been passed in these countries to limit an international student’s ability to gain permanent residency in these countries.

Taking all these factors into consideration, it is an opportune time for U.S. universities seeking Chinese undergraduate students to be working in China. But it is also important for institutions to understand the challenges and pitfalls.  Differences in culture, educational philosophies and educational systems are challenges to overcome, to be sure.  Also, many opportunities for U.S. institutions in China are in the private sector, which is competitive, chaotic and not well regulated.  There are trustworthy partners to be found ,but U.S. institutions must apply due diligence in vetting potential partners, and should employ a trusted Chinese intermediary whenever possible.

Institutions committed to overcoming the challenges of entering the growing Chinese market will not only find opportunities for increased revenue, but also enrich the student life experience of their campuses, and develop international awareness and expertise among staff faculty and students.

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