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Chinese teenagers rush for overseas education

By Chen Boyuan  (

08:39, May 31, 2013

China is experiencing a new craze for overseas education, featuring the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as the top options.

Students born in the 1990s and 2000s are the main participants in this current trend, opting for countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to obtain a bachelor's degree or above.

Three earlier rushes

In China, studying abroad used to be exclusively available to the privileged only. Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, China witnessed its first rush of students moving abroad for study, consisting mostly of government-sponsored visiting scholars and a few self-funded students.

The second rush came half a decade later, when a master's degree or a Ph.D. from world renowned institutes became the primary goal for Chinese students. These people, the first batch of foreign degree holders since China's Reform and Opening-up took off, enjoyed exclusive treatment -- such as a high income and high social status -- upon their return home.

Under this influence, the younger generation took an earlier step, hoping to obtain a foreign bachelor's degree as well. Unlike their predecessors, most of them went abroad to escape China's difficult college entrance exam. They were generally average students in China, but grew up in wealthy families. Getting enrolled abroad was not difficult for them, but getting a job afterwards proved to be.

New Oriental, China's largest provider of private educational services, and consulting firm iResearch in April of this year jointly launched the "White Book of China's Study Abroad 2013," which has found the number of Chinese students studying abroad increased by 21.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for 14 percent of such a population globally.

The report also says the number of Chinese senior high school students studying in U.S. private schools has multiplied by a stunning 100 times during the 2010-2011 academic year compared to the number five years earlier.

New Oriental has followed the trend to establish a U.S. Middle School Department in 2011. Ms. Lu Wei, who heads the section, told China Weekly magazine that in 2012, some 23,795 Chinese middle school students studied in the U.S., mostly on F1-type visas, according to FBI statistics. But in 2008, this figure stood at a mere 4,508, she said.

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