More Chinese Students Studying Abroad

Since I have been teaching here in China, I have noticed more and more students studying for the IELTs exam.  This exam is required if someone wants to go abroad to study.  It tests their English language skills that included: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.   The scoring is a number system from 1-9, nine being the highest.  They are checking for fluency and overall understanding of the English language.

In the beginning I was teaching university aged students that want to attend university abroad.. now there has been an increase in high school aged students that are wanting to attend high school abroad.

When I asked these students why they wanted to go abroad to study… I received a range of answers from the education is better, my parents want me to go, to I did not do well on the national exam.

Every year, China has a national exam that high school students must take.  This exam is what they spend their entire high school careers to prepare.  They memorize facts and terms for 3 years just to pass this extremely important exam.   This exam decides their future, literally.   If they do well on the exam they can attend a very prestigious school and have a degree that is valued and be respected in China.  However, if they do not do so well.. they will go to a lower school or technical school… or worse case,  if they fail they may not be able to attend university at all.

This is a lot of pressure on a high school student and it explains why they are so diligent in learning over here.  They lives depend on it.   For the parents, it is a sense of pride to know your student did so well on the national exam and a loss of face if your child did not do well.  So, they take care of everything possible for their children so they have no distractions from achieving the best scores possible.  They push them and push them to do the best to the point that the kids are just in tears sometimes when they come to my class. Their pressure and the stress they face is unbelievable.

So.. for those students  whose families have enough money, they will send their child abroad for a foreign degree, which bests a Chinese degree even from a top university.

US education is widely recognized by Chinese students and parents as among the best, with high quality education resources, internationally recognized qualifications, and simple application procedures for both study visas and post study work visas,” …  According to China’s Ministry of Education, almost 180,000 students studied abroad in 2008. Figures from the British Council also showed that visa applications from Chinese students to study in the U.K. in the first six months of 2008 increased 46 percent over the same period in 2007. Liang Wen pointed out that colleges in the U.S. and U.K. are always the first choice for Chinese students who want to study overseas.” -(taken from

Although, our education is the most desired it is also the most expensive and most difficult to enter into.   Most students would prefer to go to their dream colleges of Harvard, Yale, and other ivy league schools… however, the costs and the visas are extremely difficult to obtain.  It is much easier to attend schools in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands or Australia.

In an attempt to get past some of the difficulties Chinese parents have tried to send their children earlier.  If they send them to a private high school in the states first it is easier to get them into a University in the states.  Which actually makes perfect sense.  Thus, begins the preparation for the younger students to go abroad.

The downside to this I feel is the maturity level of the students.  In China, the parents take care of everything for their child.  From cooking, cleaning, to shopping for their clothes even after the child is university age.   The child does not experience  anything besides studying, therefore, to send them abroad with such little experience and maturity is not the best idea.  The children become homesick and have major culture shock.

In recent years there was a problem with these children that were sent abroad in the fact that they did not come back, thus, causing the greatest minds of the future to live in other countries.  However, due to the world economic situations these things are changing.  More and more students are coming back to China, due to the fact that they can not find employment elsewhere.

However, China is not the only country that send their students abroad.  Surprisingly, more American students are coming to China to study.

“While the number of US students in China has grown from less than 100 in the early 1980s to more than 10,000 currently, many of them are here to learn a professional skill as much as to enjoy a new culture.

“In the past, foreign students came to China merely for our culture,” said Xu Qiuhan, director of BLCU’s foreign students office. “But because of China’s rapid economic and social development, being able to speak Chinese has become a useful tool to students’ future careers.”

With the rise in economic power that is happening here in China, more American students are realizing that it is more profitable to them to learn Chinese and some of the Chinese way of doing business.  Some have even stayed in China after graduation, since it is easier for an educated foreigner to get a job here.

All I can say is that the world is becoming closer and closer with the sharing of information and the changes that are going on.  I personally think it is good that we are sharing knowledge between the countries… and hopefully it will make for a better world and better people.

until next time…


8 thoughts on “More Chinese Students Studying Abroad

  1. Essy

    “It is much easier to attend schools in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands or Australia.”

    Wow. Everything mentioned in this article is so true of my friend who has come from China to study in Canada for highschool.

    “In China, the parents take care of everything for their child. From cooking, cleaning, to shopping for their clothes even after the child is university age. The child does not experience anything besides studying, therefore, to send them abroad with such little experience and maturity is not the best idea.”

    Sometime I visit her at her uncle’s house (where she is currently staying) and the house is a mess. LOL. She does not do any household chore and she’s really lazy too. Hmm. Very interesting.

  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks so much for this great information! You really helped me understand this whole issue. Everything you said here was 100 % confirmed by a Chinese friend of mine who spends between 4-6 weeks each year back there.

    I found your site through a google search because I am researching how to attract Chinese students to a private school in a resort town in the US Rockie mountains.

    Is there anything that you have to add since you posted this in May? For example, are more Chinese students expressing interest in US high schools, particularly private schools? Thank you so much again for this great info and insights–SOOO helpful!

      1. Elizabeth

        Thank you very much–I just saw this reply. I am trying to put together a report on this issue for the head of a small private school in my community that is considering recruiting in China. I will see what further questions I might have and get back to you. Thanks so much again!

  3. Hi. I am in English language for international courses students (ELICOS) business in Australia operating from Macquarie University in Sydney.

    Most of our students are from China, and recently a question was asked regarding the parent’s input into the choice of a university (or destination in general).

    I am interested in your opinion. How much say do parents have, and what do they care about. Some people say it is the university’s ‘brand name’ only but I’d like to think there is something else.

    Your input would be much appreciated.

    1. @Pavle… first thank you for reading… To answer your question.. funny i was just asked this by one of my students the other day; Most parents want their children to go to America #1, Canada #2, UK #3, then Australia #4 …. .

      It seems although America is preferred for obvious reasons it is very expensive and difficult to get in. Canada is second do to the close location of the states… they can go to university and transfer to the states later… or go to high school in Canada and university in the states.

      However, due to the lower qualifications, lower test scores, and lower costs.. many Chinese parents choose UK and Australia. However, I have heard that some parents are disappointed with the quality of English that they are learning. They have figured out that there is a difference in English styles… and since in China they are now pushing American English.. they are traveling to the UK and Australia and cant understand anything.

      As for which College…. “Everything is in the Name” … if people in China have never heard of the college… in the UK or Australia then… it is useless… Jobs in China are giving on the basis of how well-known the University is you went to…. how high on the list of top 100 schools it is. The only exception to this list.. is to go to America or Canada for university.

      I hope this helps.. if you have more questions or want to discuss more.. please contact me… .. Thanks again

  4. Wrissa

    Wow, very interesting. I have way more in common with Chinese people than I thought. lol Cooking and laundry is mainly done by my grandma b/c it’s her house and she doesn’t want anyone to mess it up. Cleaning is mostly done by her to but I help as well as pick and buy my own clothes. I was/am mainly able to get away with not doing much because of school like those chinese students. However, I realize my lack of independence in those aspects so instead of applying to go abroad, I’m only going up north. There I will be on my own and will have to do everything myself. I’ve already started doing laundry and cooking so it won’t be such a shock. But I figured if I can live up north by myself for a couple of months (for research), I’ll be okay to go abroad in a semester or two.

    1. Yes you are similar to them.. however in return they are not allowed to go out, or watch tv and some live at the school. So they are only to study. However, since they have only known this and all the other kids have the same pressure they are shocked to find that … most american kids are not the same. Thank you so much for your comment.

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