Opinion / From the Readers

Foreign education trends

By Emma Zhang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-19 07:48

Comment on "European universities growing in popularity among students" (China Daily, March 17)

Chinese college students' longing to study abroad reflects their preference for diplomas from foreign countries. Chinese students began traveling abroad to get higher education in the 1980s, and since then this trend has undegone several changes.

In the beginning it was quite difficult for Chinese students to get an offer from overseas universities because of their social development level and poor language, especially English language, skills. That's why only excellent Chinese students received scholarships to cover their tuition and living expenses abroad. Many of them chose to settle abroad and those who returned to China carved out brilliant careers because of the lack of foreign-returned university graduates who had learned English-language skills.

But as China's and Chinese families' economic conditions improved, an increasing number of foreign universities started seeing Chinese students as consumers, rather than just students, who were willing to pay huge amounts of money to earn a foreign degree.

Under the changed circumstances, it became easier for Chinese students to study abroad, and even the not-so-good students could enroll in a foreign university as long as they could pay their tuition and living expenses. As a result, foreign college diplomas have become less valuable in the job market; some foreign-returned university graduates can't even find suitable jobs.

Since English has become a basic skill for college graduates in China, it is no longer regarded as an obvious advantage in the job market. That also explains why European universities are attracting more attention from Chinese students. Tuition waivers and the lure of learning a third language have become a great attraction for Chinese students. This change is good for diversity of higher education as well as students' future development.

Emma Zhang, via e-mail

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