More Chinese Students Abandoning Chinese Universities

by Benjamin Skye | October 14, 2011 | Newsletters 0 Comments

An increasing number of Chinese students are pursuing higher education outside their home country. Why?

Chinese students and their parents attend the International Education Expo in Beijing on May 8, 2008; STR / AFP / Getty Images

Chinese students and their parents attend the International Education Expo in Beijing on May 8, 2008; STR / AFP / Getty Images

Time magazine reports that Chinese students are looking for study options outside of China in increasing numbers, in part because they believe the quality of education in places such as the United States, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom is better than at Chinese universities that Time describes as being “hamstrung by an archaic education system in drastic need of reform.”

No longer are China’s top achievers in the national university admissions exam – the Gaokao – exclusively choosing top Chinese schools such as Beijing and Tsinghua universities. Instead they are increasingly looking at overseas options — a trend that has both China’s education experts and the general public worrying about the competitiveness of higher education in China.

While 9.3 million Chinese students took the college-entrance exam in 2011, close to 1 million high school graduates did not, and among them, some 200,000 chose to go to foreign universities instead. Today over 100,000 Chinese high school graduates attend college in the United States each fall, and this year at least 17 of the top 100 mainland students chose to go to the University of Hong Kong.(*Interestingly, Hong Kong’s Ministry of Education has begun drastically over-hauling its education system this year, swapping their old British-influenced system for one that resembles more of the American liberal arts system, to read more about this, visit this link: Paradigm Shift in Hong Kong Higher Education)

The exodus of the country’s brightest high school students has renewed discussions in the media about the ongoing problem of higher-education reform. And so far — in the absence of any clear evidence that reform is actually happening — public opinion of China’s universities has become more and more skeptical, if not downright negative, according to Time.

Beijing’s official response to the call for reform is contained in the 10-year blueprint for education reform issued by the State Council last July, with policies like “expanding the universities’ administrative authority” being listed — albeit vaguely — among its 70 bullet points. Until these issues of reform are resolved, the trend is expected to continue, with an increasing number of Chinese students “voting with their feet” by leaving the country’s education scene for brighter pastures outside of China, especially in the United States. Just this year alone, ELI 360 has had over a hundred applicants from mainland China with at least forty of those students having enrolled at one of our partner universities for either ESL (English as Second Language), bachelor’s or master’s degree programs.

- Read the full article regarding the current plight of China’s education system on TIME Magazine’s website: Why Are China’s Universities Losing Their Star Students?
- To read about Hong Kong’s education system overhaul, click here: Paradigm Shift in Hong Kong Higher Education

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