Chinese government’s plan to ditch English test draws concern

Expert: Removing subject from gaokao enables students to work on other skills

A proposal to remove the English-language test from the gaokao, the national college entrance exam, has triggered heated debate among parents and experts.

The move is aimed at easing students’ burden while promoting practical language-learning methods.

To improve exam-oriented education, the Ministry of Education released a reform proposal for the gaokao in 2013. This included the plan to exclude English as a mandatory subject in the exam, with students urged to take a third-party English assessment for university admissions.

Gu Mingyuan, president of the Chinese Society of Education, told Qianjiang Evening News the reform would take effect in 2017.

Gu’s confirmation has attracted widespread attention from observers including Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.

Xiong remains negative over the proposal’s initial intention to ease study pressure for students, stressing that this is unlikely to work if the college admission system doesn’t change.

“Removing English from the gaokao doesn’t mean that universities won’t require English assessment results for admissions,” Xiong told China Daily on Sunday.

“As long as colleges recruit students on their results, no matter how and where they take assessments, it won’t help ease the academic pressure at all.”

According to the draft plan, students will be encouraged to take English-language assessments held by social agencies several times during their high school studies.

Colleges will require respective English levels, converted from scores, based on the admission requirements for different majors.

Liu Limin, vice-minister of education, said the new policy would help diversify the traditional evaluation of English skills.

Local education authorities have been discussing pilot measures to reduce the proportion of English in the gaokao in line with the reform plan.

In Beijing for example, the full score for the English test will be reduced in 2016 to 100 points from the current 150. Students will take tests twice a year and their highest score will count for the gaokao.

Yu Minhong, an English-language education expert and founder of New Oriental Education and Technology Group, said removing English as a gaokao subject would inspire students to work on their practical communication skills.

However, parents still have concerns over the decision to exclude English.

“English (as a communication tool) is so important for children, and I will urge my son to study it hard no matter how the gaokao is reformed,” said Shen Aimei, mother of a primary school student in Beijing.

Chen Mengwei contributed to this story.

US, the preferred study destination

The article list many reasons why the US is still a worldwide number one choice for undergraduate studies… Even when costs are skyrocketing… Chinese students come to the US in hope of gaining employment after finishing university… This now proves to be more difficult than originally thought… Still, quality of education offered by US schools was the main reason for the US dominance… 

-Andreas Kristinus


While other countries may offer quality education, it is America that remains the top choice for Chinese students.

THE United States (US) remains Chinese students’ top destination for studying abroad despite a slight sag in popularity, according to a recent survey.

Out of 21,352 interviewees aged between 15 and 36 years, 26.8% of those who plan to study abroad prefer the US as the destination country, down by 1.3% from last year’s survey, according to the annual report on trends in education abroad by China student recruitment agency EIC Group.

“The main reason behind the small decrease may be that the destinations of studying abroad are getting more diverse,” said Jin Ran, the group’s chief marketing officer, which has come out with the education abroad forecast for the past six years.


“For many European schools, they not only possess world-class reputation and top-notch education quality, but the public schools also offer free education,” he said.

“In addition, certain majors in countries outside the US are more competitive, such as luxury management in France, hotel management in Switzerland, logistics in Singapore and mechanical engineering in Germany,” Jin added.

The report shows increases in the number of students choosing Germany (3.6%) and Canada (3.1%) as their study destinations in 2014, and minor increases in those favouring Singapore (0.6 %) and France (0.3%).

Even with the slight dip in popularity for the US, he emphasised that the country’s leading position is still unthreatened.

“In general the US still takes the lead as the No. 1 country choice to study abroad for Chinese students.

“It is 9.5 % higher than that of the UK, the second most popular destination,” Jin said.

The quality of education offered by US schools was the main reason for the US dominance, he added.

In the report, 64.1% of those interviewed listed “education quality” as the main factor in selecting the country of their choice, about 20% more than those who based their choice on cost, the second-most considered factor, Jin said.

“I think US schools have the highest level of education quality,” Zhang Yan, a recent Master’s programme graduate from Columbia University, said.

“There are also so many good schools in the US to choose from.”

“In addition, the US, unlike many other countries, gives you some leeway for local job-hunting after the academic programme. There are also numerous opportunities for scholarships,” Zhang added.

This year’s results differ from last year’s significantly in that more people think studying abroad will bring better career opportunities — 17.3% in 2013 to 27.9% this year.

“This means that the job situation (in China) for the year of 2013 was considered the hardest year for employment and greatly affected students’ preference in education,” Jin said.

The sun, however, does not always shine brighter in the foreign land, according to some recent US graduates.

“Maybe I was overly optimistic about the job opportunities abroad.

“It is much harder than what I expected two years ago when I applied for graduate schools,” said Liu Dong, a Columbia University graduate who only considered US schools because of their better reputation and academic quality.

“But then the economy is bad in general, so the situation is not just bad for students studying abroad,” Liu said, adding that one had to look at the brighter side.

Liu said that the resources, connections and language abilities students gained from studying abroad would benefit them in the long term.

The report also found that there was an increase in the percentage of people who listed “climate and environment” as a major factor in selecting a country for their studies.

The smog in China had in a way indirectly influenced a student’s choice of studying abroad,” the report said.

“About half a million Chinese students are expected to study abroad in 2014.

The 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange said that, during the 2012-13 academic year, Chinese student enrolment at tertiary institutions in the US reached 235,597, compared with 194,029, a year earlier. – Asia News Network

Overseas returnees struggle to find jobs in China

If so many Chinese students studying in the USA can’t find a job after returning to China, then why are we not keeping them here..!? After all, we invest a lot of time and money in educating the brightest (we hope) that china has to offer… Why, then, are so many of them returning home..? Clearly, Chinese students believe that a degree from a prestigious US or European university opens doors upon their return… Not so… So, why does the US not try everything in their/its power to retain their investment and keep it close..? For some reason, Chinese students still have not figured out that being educated in the west allows them to stay in the west… Shouldn’t USA universities be teaching them this as well..?

-Andreas Kristinus


More students in China can afford to pursue their studies overseas for growing incomes from the country’s economic development when being back home. While many are heading abroad, the country has also seen a rising number of overseas returnees in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Education, over 350,000 students with foreign degrees returned to China in 2013, a 30 percent surge compared with the previous year.

According to the Ministry of Education, over 350,000 students with foreign degrees returned to China in 2013, a 30 percent surge compared with the previous year. Over 91 percent of the returnees are aged between 23 and 32 with over 90 percent of them financially supported by themselves or families. Among the returning students, over 60 percent received their master’s degree, while around six percent graduated with doctorate. The ministry report says it has become more difficult for many Bachelor’s and Master’s holders to find employment due to the sheer number of these graduates.

Mr. Nie worked in China for over five years, before going to the UK to study for a Master’s degree. Now he has graduated, Nie is struggling to find a job in Britain or in China.

“Companies in Britain don’t recognize my work experience in China, and there are not many job openings because of the recession in Europe. On the other hand, competition in China is also fierce. I can’t even get my old job back.” Mr. Nie said.

Nie is not only one struggling to get a good job after studying abroad. A recent job fair in Beijing for overseas graduates attracted some 3,000 people. Many of them had to wait in a long queue just to get in.

“I took an overnight train from Zhengzhou and arrived 5 a.m. this morning just for this job fair. Before I went abroad, I thought it would be easier to find a good job as I have an overseas degree, but now I’ve been job-hunting for five months.” Overseas returnee Mr. Zhang said.

One of the reasons why these overseas returnees are struggling to find a job, is timing.

“In China, the peak season for recruitment is around Autumn, as most students in domestic universities graduate in June. I got my degree from Australia in January, so when I came back, the good positions were already taken.” Overseas returnee Mr. Sun said.

Another factor is the clash between high expectations and harsh reality.

“I want to work in an international company, because I got my degree and work experience in the US.” An overseas returnee said.

“My priority is German firms. Because I studied in Germany.” An overseas returnee said.

According to a recruitment website, almost 60 percent of overseas returnees want to work in foreign companies or joint ventures, but only around 20 percent achieve that.

“Many private enterprises are developing very fast now. And they offer more job opportunities and promotion prospects. The graduates shouldn’t pin all their hopes on foreign companies or joint ventures.” Guo Sheng, CEO of, said.

Many overseas returnees also want higher salaries because they have spent hundreds of thousands of yuan to studying abroad. For many, that seems to be an unrealistic demand.

For many parents and kids, it’s ‘Harvard, Harvard, Harvard!’

EduGate faces this dilemma on a daily basis… parents simply do not understand that there are over 4,000 colleges in the USA and that Havard is most definitely NOT the best school for their child… it seems that educating the parents is more important than educating the students… albeit, both are blinded by the reputation that precedes Harvard and unfortunately they miss the big picture… on any given day in beijing, i find more students at a starbucks desiring to go to harvard than of students actually getting accepted… yet, i strongly believe this attitude will change in a few years and parents will be open to let their child decide on their own which uni to attend…

for all those students that are looking to find the right school for them, edugate offers summer english learning programs (for credit) extension programs, and assistance with conditional/direct admission and gateway (no TOEFL or SAT required)…

They are among the top schools in the Ivy League. Yale University took one student.

Yale and Princeton University accepted two other students, a brother and sister.

Other than getting into some of the most sought after universities in the United States, what the three had in common was that their parents are Chinese, all had done extensive prep work to get into their dream college, and all three rejected those universities for the school they really wanted – Harvard University.

“Chinese parents only know Harvard, Harvard, Harvard,” said the owner of a small, private tutoring service that helps children from low-income Chinese families prepare for various college standardized tests, like the SATs and the SAT subject tests. “Parents come to me and say, ‘Our child must get into Harvard. They must get into Harvard, we don’t want them to go anywhere else,” said the owner, who declined to be named.

She has been working with high school students for nearly a decade, hiring teachers to help classes of 15 to 20 students prepare for the SAT exams. Most of the students that attend the SAT classes in Brooklyn began preparing as early as their freshman year of high school.

“Particularly for the Chinese who come to the United States, it’s only Harvard. It’s as if there are no good schools other than Harvard,” she said. “I tell these parents, there are so many good schools in the US, but they don’t even know schools like Dartmouth or Vanderbilt. Obsessing over Harvard is almost a Chinese tradition now.”

Some trace that obsession back to 2000 when Harvard University and Liu Yiting became household names across China after Liu’s parents published a book chronicling how their parenting style led to their daughter’s admission to Harvard. “Harvard Girl” sold millions of copies in China and detailed Liu’s disciplined upbringing and how she became one of the first Chinese undergraduates to attend Harvard on a full scholarship.

The book led to many copycat titles, with different parents trying their hand at detailing their own parenting styles and how it led to their childrens’ admissions to other prestigious higher education institutions.

Bev Taylor, the founder of college counseling service The Ivy Coach, works with parents and their children to get them into the schools of their choice. She helped the family whose daughter and son were accepted by Yale and Princeton.

“They weren’t done. They wanted Harvard. Why it was Harvard? I don’t know. What’s wrong with Princeton, what’s wrong with Yale? And why would you go through that? What’s so different?” she said. “A lot of it is bragging rights so mommy and daddy can say they have one kid at Harvard and one kid at Princeton, instead of saying they have two kids at Princeton.”

Taylor said that about 85 percent of her clients are Chinese and Indian. They pay $995 an hour for Ivy Coach’s services, which range from helping with personal essays to reviewing applications to see where students can improve them and make them stand out.

Billie Wei, who almost finishes up with her first year at Harvard, went to Ivy Prep, one of the most well-known Chinese cram schools in New York.

As for her turning down Yale, “she just couldn’t let go of the reputation of Harvard,” said her father, who said going to the school was her decision.

There are 722 students from China studying across all of Harvard’s colleges, more than 300 of whom go to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with the rest in undergraduate and other graduate programs.

“The number of students from China studying across Harvard University has increased significantly in recent decades,” said Jeff Neal, director of communications at Harvard.

The number of students from China attending Harvard has increased threefold since the mid-1990s, according to the school.

Harvard doesn’t break down applicants by country, but Neal said that the number of applicants from China to the undergraduate program has also grown during that time period, “though at a much slower rate”.