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Chinese postgraduates flock to US schools

Updated: 2012-04-13 11:08

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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Postgraduate schools in the United States have seen a record-breaking number of Chinese applicants over the past year, a new survey showed.

The Council of Graduate Schools, a US organization dedicated to the advancement of graduate education and research, recently published a new survey that said Chinese applicants increased by 18 percent for the 2012 fall semester, marking the seventh successive year of double-digit growth in applications from China.

Applications from India increased by 2 percent, following an 8 percent increase in 2011. South Korea's 2 percent gain last year was followed by a decrease of 1 percent this year.

"The overall growth in applications is encouraging, but there are interesting variations between individual countries and regions," said Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, in a written statement.

"We need to ensure that US graduate education attracts students from around the globe by increasing outreach efforts and pursuing policies that would allow those graduates who want to remain in the United States and contribute to our economy to do so," she added.

The survey polled all 500 US colleges and universities that were members of the Council of Graduate Schools as of January 2012.

The majority of institutions reported an increase in applications over the last year, with an average increase of 11 percent at these institutions. Four out of 10 responding institutions reported a decrease, averaging 9 percent.

Chinese undergraduate students rose in number as well. The Institute of International Education, a non-governmental organization based in the US, reported that Chinese students increased by 43 percent at the undergraduate level from 2010 to 2011, which largely accounts for the growth this past year.

By November 2011, the total Chinese enrollment in the United States reached 158,000, or nearly 22 percent of the overall international student population.

"More and more wealthy Chinese parents prefer to send their children to the United States," said Liu Haishan, a consultant at the New Oriental Vision Consulting Company, an overseas consulting agency.

"The world's top 100 universities only include two in China - Tsinghua and Peking University - but there are around 60 in the States," Liu said. "Furthermore, you only have one chance a year to take the college entrance exam in China, but you can take the Scholastic Aptitude Test six times a year, which means a higher chance of entering a top US university."

Liu also said that Chinese high school students are showing greater interest in studying abroad, with some even starting to prepare three years ahead.

"The Scholastic Aptitude Test score is not the only admission requirement. Other aspects, such as social activities, are all included in the evaluation of students, so preparation begins much earlier than the application process," Liu said.

Lindsay Liang, a senior consultant at New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting in Beijing, told China Daily that school ranking, tuition and living conditions, including safety, are the top three concerns when parents choose to send children to study abroad.

"For example, in America, it is legal for individuals to possess firearms, which is different from Chinese regulations," said Liang, suggesting students should prepare in advance for different cultures and state regulations before departure.