Golden University Opportunity for Chinese Students in California

10:47, May 06, 2010      

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Patrick Mattimore

Earlier this month, Xu Zhihong, ex-president of Peking University, said that China had no global top-ranking universities. After identifying the characteristics of the world’s foremost colleges, Xu said that China needed to cultivate good students and scholars.

But cultivation takes time. For families who plan to send students to college during the next couple of years, it may be a better bet to send those students to college abroad.

The University of California system is comprised of nine undergraduate campuses. Six of those campuses-Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis, Santa Barbara, and Irvine- are ranked by US News and World Report in the top fifty national universities in the U.S.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which compiles one of the two most prominent world rankings of universities, rated all six of those colleges within the top 50 universities worldwide in 2009. All of those UC universities as well as UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside ranked ahead of every university in China. (Only UC Merced, which was established in 2005, was unranked).

Coincidentally, the state of California, which has the world’s eighth largest economy, bigger than Russia, is facing a massive debt crisis of over $20 billion dollars.

The economic crisis has forced the University of California, America’s leading public university system, to cut its budget by $813 million — or 20 percent, according to a Time Magazine article from last year.

California’s crisis spells opportunity for Chinese students.

The UC system has amped up its recruitment and admission of foreign students.

For example, UC Berkeley, the most highly-rated of the UC schools, just announced that they had doubled the number of admission offers to out-of-state and international students this year, while cutting spaces for California residents. Out-of-state and international students received about 27 percent of freshman admission offers, up from 14 percent last year.

Nonresident students pay about three times the tuition paid by California residents, which is why UC’s campuses are so anxious to get more international students. International students will pay about $32,000 next year for tuition. Students will need to budget in at least another $15,000 for housing and living costs.

Since the state no longer provides enough money to support California students, Berkeley dropped the number of in-state offers by 15 percent — from 11,184 for the current school year to 9,459 for next fall's freshman class. Berkeley increased its percentage of international students accepted this year by 45.3 percent according to information on Berkeley’s website.

International student acceptances have increased by 86 percent at UC San Diego since 2008 while the overall percentage of acceptances has declined by 5 percent.

The upward trend in international student admits is less pronounced at other UC campuses. Those universities, with the exception of UCLA, get fewer applications from outside the state.

While the most competitive campuses like Berkeley and UCLA only accept about 20 percent of applicants, campuses such as Santa Barbara and Davis accept over 40 percent of applicants, and UC Santa Cruz accepted 65 percent. Overall, 70 percent of applicants to UC schools will be accepted by at least one campus. However, applicants should be aware that many of those acceptances will be at either Riverside or Merced, the least competitive and least prestigious universities.

High acceptance rates make some UC schools attractive alternatives to the cutthroat competition to get into a handful of top Chinese universities.

Another bit of good news for parents worried that their children won’t graduate and their money will have been wasted is the fact that about 80 percent of UC students graduate within six years. That’s well above the national average of about 50 percent.

Here is the bottom line. For families living in China that can afford the price tag, the University of California system might be the perfect college alternative.

The author is a fellow at the American-based Institute for Analytic Journalism and served on the faculty/student admissions committee at the University of California-Hastings College of the Law.

The article represents the author's views only. It does not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.


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