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Graduates need to develop all-round skills

(China Daily)

09:37, November 14, 2011

The number of Chinese students going abroad for higher education continues to grow at a rapid rate. As the government continues to widen students' access to its higher education sector, Chinese graduates have quadrupled in six years. And last year, the number of Chinese students and scholars attending foreign universities or research institutes rose 20 percent to 284,700.

But many Chinese students emerge from higher education with limited understanding and experience of wider society. Independent and critical thinking is unfamiliar territory for a majority of Chinese students, hindering their ability to gain a thorough understanding of China's economic, social and political challenges.

The onus is on China's own education system to prepare the next generation of Chinese students for life after learning, but universities in Western societies must also play their part in meeting the needs of Chinese overseas students who face intense competition for employment once they return home.

At present, these needs are largely ignored. Universities in the West must pay more attention to providing the Chinese students they recruit with opportunities to play active roles in an unfamiliar society and gain valuable work experience. This cannot be achieved unless the links between the universities and community are enhanced so that students have more opportunities for voluntary work, for internships and for employment during the period of their academic study abroad.

An emphasis on work experience and internship opportunities has become a prominent issue for Chinese students in some major higher education destination countries. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the new government policy to introduce an international immigration cap will lead to the abolition of the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa, which permitted international graduates from British universities to remain in the UK for a year after graduation.

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