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Exam no longer the only way up

(China Daily)

11:15, June 09, 2012

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- China's college entrance exam, for decades compared to a stampede of thousands of soldiers and horses across a single log bridge, is now turning out to be just one of many options for students in top senior highs.

"We have 219 students graduating this year. Among them, more than 80 have been admitted to overseas universities, while more than 80 others have already been recommended to domestic universities," said Cui Deming, president of the Shanghai Foreign Language School, a school known for cultivating foreign language skills.

The number of Chinese students at US undergraduate schools increased by 43 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the US-based NGO Institute of International Education.

The No 2 Secondary School Attached to East China Normal University in Shanghai said on its website that two-thirds of its graduates have been admitted by overseas universities or recommended directly to domestic universities.

Yang Di, a teacher at the Beijing Foreign Language School, said intermediate-level students in prestigious schools show the highest enthusiasm about studying abroad.

"Some students may have little chance of enrolling in a top university in China, so applying to a university outside the Chinese mainland might be a better choice if the family can afford it," Yang said.

Yet those who forgo the exam completely still make up a small proportion of the students, said Shen Xianzhang, vice-president of the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China.

"After all, the cost of living and tuition is not a small sum for most parents," he said.

For most students coming from less-famous high schools, choosing to study abroad is less popular.

"The number of students in our school choosing to study abroad is not as high as in those schools, but we still can see an upward trend," said Liu Jinyan, a teacher from Shanghai Luwan Senior High School.

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