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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Chinese college students flocking to U.S. campuses

    Chinese college students flocking to U.S. campuses

    Updated 19m ago
    By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

    LINCOLN, Neb. — Bojaio Sun knew next to nothing about football – or the state of Nebraska, for that matter – until he started looking for U.S. colleges and universities on the Internet. Now, as one of a growing number of Chinese students at the state's flagship university here, he catches every game he can.
    "I am very proud to be a Husker," he says.

    President Obama announced plans last month to "dramatically expand" to 100,000 the number of U.S. students who study in China over the next four years, calling such exchanges "a clear commitment to build ties among our people in the steady pursuit of cooperation that will serve our nations, and the world." But Sun, who grew up in China's Jiangxi Province, is part of a surge already taking place in the other direction. Last year alone, 98,510 Chinese graduate and undergraduate students poured into U.S. colleges and universities, lured by China's emphasis on academic achievement and the prestige of U.S. higher education.

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    China is second only to India when graduate students and undergrads are counted. But undergraduates such as Sun are the newer phenomenon. Nationally, an 11% growth in undergrad enrollments last year was driven largely by a 60% increase from China, a report by the Institute of International Education says. Grad student enrollments were up 2%.

    U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where the higher education system can't meet the demand. Two years ago, a record 10 million students throughout China took the national college entrance test, competing for 5.7 million university slots. Because foreign undergraduates typically aren't eligible for U.S. federal aid, colleges here can provide limited financial help. Now, thanks to China's booming economy in recent years, more Chinese families can afford to pay.

    The increase also reflects a "strong dialogue" between the two countries, says U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary Alina Romanowski. She says the recent growth can't be pinned to specific changes in visa policy, but some U.S. college officials say they detect a friendlier attitude among U.S. embassies and consulates, which review visa applications. One key question for any country is whether visa-seeking students can prove they will return to their home country upon graduating from a U.S. college.

    "Because the Chinese economy has improved, students feel there are opportunities there waiting for them," says Gretchen Olson, director of international programs at Drake University in Des Moines, where there are 28 undergraduates from China this fall, up from one in 2003.

    Getting noticed on campus

    For Sun, 22, whose father is a professor and whose mother is part owner of a beauty salon, the decision to enroll here came after disappointments at home.

    When his scores on China's national college entrance exam – the gaokao– fell short of what he needed to pursue a communications degree, Sun enrolled in a computer science program rather than wait a year to retake the exam. After two years at Jiangxi Normal University, he decided that major wasn't for him. So, he reasoned, "since I cannot learn what I want to learn, why don't I go to a better university?"

    Sun, now a business major, found Nebraska on his own. But like many U.S. colleges, it is reaching out, too.

    Cognizant of a Chinese infatuation with rankings, the university's recruitment brochure boasts a Reader's Digest mention last year identifying it as one of "just 45" colleges to earn an "A" for campus safety, and a mention in U.S. News & World Report in January showing it as the most popular public university in the nation, based on its 71% yield rate – the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll.

    In just four years, its Chinese undergraduate population has zoomed from 19 to 171, making Chinese the largest foreign student group on campus this fall for the first time.

    They comprise less than 1% of Nebraska's nearly 19,000 undergraduates, but Chinese students do get noticed. Zach Howe, 19, a Nebraskan by birth and one of Sun's roommates, recalls wondering "why there were so many" Chinese on campus and says some classmates found it odd that Chinese women use umbrellas even when it's not raining.

    But he says most students have "accepted that they're here for the same reason we are." And, he says, "realistically, we're going to be working with China. The best way to promote that is to learn alongside of them."

    That's the main reason college officials give for seeking international students. But such efforts are not universally embraced. When assistant admissions director Carmen Varejcka-McGee tells parents in rural areas that part of her job involves international recruitment, she says she sometimes hears: "Oh, so you're the one who brings those students here? Why do they have to come here?"

    She tells them it's "the next best thing" for their children, after studying abroad.

    The economic effect

    There are also economic benefits to hosting foreign students in the USA.

    They contributed nearly $18 billion last year in tuition and living expenses to the U.S. economy, including about $89 million in Nebraska, according to a November report from the Institute of International Education. Though it's costly for colleges to recruit abroad, that population "has the potential to be a significant source of revenue," says University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman.

    Nearly half (47%) of Chinese undergraduates, and 29% of all foreign undergraduates, receive some discounts on their tuition based on their academic record. But most international students, including Sun, pay the entire non-resident rate for tuition and fees – about $18,000 this year.

    That's money the school otherwise might not have seen, because Nebraska's high-school-age population is declining.

    A legislative task force in 2003 encouraged its public institutions to "more actively recruit non-Nebraska high school graduates" – but with a caveat: They can't "diminish the state's priority of providing appropriate need-based aid to Nebraska's high school graduates."

    Nebraska, which admits any resident or non-resident who meets basic academic requirements, is largely spared the criticism sometimes aimed at more selective institutions.

    Among concerns voiced by USA TODAY readers in response to a story last year on the topic was whether American students were being denied entrance to more elite universities because slots were being set aside for students overseas. But Paul Thiboutot, admissions dean at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., which admits about 27% of applicants, says that argument misunderstands one of U.S. higher education's greatest strengths.

    Carleton does not set aside slots, he says, though it does spend $2 million of its $28 million financial aid budget on foreign students. And although some American students may be displaced by those students, Thiboutot says it's true "only if you're looking at a single institution. It isn't true when you look across the entire system of higher ed and all the options. There's no one being denied a good college education."

    Moreover, it works both ways, he says. Carleton, which enrolled 18 Chinese freshman this year, admitted no more than 10% of the 300 Chinese who applied.

    If some U.S. parents are frustrated by selective admissions policies, so are Chinese parents, who are most familiar with a system in which the gaokao determines their child's future.

    "The Chinese cannot believe that test scores alone will not get them into America's top colleges," says Joyce Slayton Mitchell, author of a forthcoming guide for Chinese students to colleges in the USA.

    Problems persist

    U.S. colleges also face challenges abroad.

    Worries about fraud on test scores and transcripts make occasional headlines. And even Chinese students who test high on an English language proficiency test may not be able to speak or write well enough to stay up to speed in a U.S. classroom, where essay writing and discussions are common, says Mitchell, an admissions counselor who writes a college advice column for the China Daily and Shenzhen Daily.

    To address that concern, Nebraska's writing center began offering a one-credit course for Chinese students this fall. The school also is building on longstanding faculty relationships in China to create undergraduate partnerships that have brought 30 Chinese undergraduates to campus and drawn 150 more into the pipeline during the past two years.

    Adjustments to be made

    Students spend the first two years at their home institutions, where Nebraska faculty lead English classes. Then the students transfer to Nebraska and complete their bachelor's degrees. The relationship enables Nebraska faculty not only to prepare students for their campus but also to evaluate the quality of the students' coursework in China.

    Once in Nebraska, "they still have problems (with) speaking and listening," says David Lou, director of the university's Office of China Initiatives.

    Tong Chang, 22, an electrical engineering major from Xi'an, Shaanxi Province and the first student to participate in the partnership, says he sometimes consults Chinese-language textbooks to help him get through demanding material. Sun, after a "miserable" first semester at Nebraska, decided to take fewer credits this fall.

    "I just didn't expect it would be so hard," he says.

    There are other adjustments, too. If Husker football was a pleasant surprise for Sun, he says, he also finds it odd that 18-year-olds in Nebraska "can buy a gun but you can't buy alcohol."

    And Chang says he knows Chinese students get funny looks when they warm milk in the microwave. "It's not something they say. It's just something you can tell," he says. But he expects that to change in time.

    "As long as more (Chinese) students are coming, they'll see us more often and someday they may think, 'Oh, this may not be as weird as I used to think.' " ... 8_CV_N.htm

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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    The increase also reflects a "strong dialogue" between the two countries, says U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary Alina Romanowski.
    "STRONG DIALOGUE" between the two countries? What DIALOGUE? CHINA OWNS US! Thanks to the sell out Congress we're stuck with and NAFTA. . .oh yeah, and the illegal alien in the White Wash House!
    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
    ~Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

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