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Parents urged to take care in choosing study trips

(Xinhua)

08:19, July 31, 2012

AUTHORITIES are warning Chinese parents planning to send their children on an "overseas study tour" to give it more thought as many such trips are little more than tourist attractions.

Although many Chinese parents don't hesitate before spending lavishly on their children, the mother of Xiang Miao, a high school sophomore who took part in a 16-day summer study tour abroad last year, regrets her careless spending.

Xiang's mother paid 30,000 yuan (US$4,700) for the so-called "overseas study tour," which boasted of homestay accommodation, collective learning and sight-seeing activities in a foreign country.

"I would rather have taken him abroad myself if I had known about this kind of study tour. It is an eye-opener at best, rather than a way of truly enhancing his English skills or making preparations for future overseas study," she said.

However, the number of applicants for such programs still saw "explosive" growth this year, according to Zhou Xiaolan, marketing director of the New Oriental Education & Technology Group. More than 10,000 students in Beijing alone will travel abroad for the group's summer study tour.

"Tour packages to popular destinations such as the US and Britain were booked up three months in advance and less costly tours were also nearly packed," she said.

A three-week trip may cost anywhere from 20,000 yuan to 43,000 yuan, depending on the destination. Most of the applicants are middle school students.

Parents generally expect their children to gain a great deal from their overseas experience, and some have purposefully put their children in such programs as a warm-up before future overseas study.

However, observers have warned students and their parents against profiteering and other shady practices.

Parents are said to have complained about too many sight-seeing and shopping activities instead of programs that help their children improve language and communication skills.

Jiang Nan, an adviser for "global study tour" programs, advised parents to make sure they are clear about the purpose of any trip they choose to sign their children up for.

"When checking the itinerary and credentials of the program's organizer, parents have to make sure at the same time that their children are really interested in exploring the place they are going," he said.

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