China’s Ministry of Education says some 459,800 students studied abroad last year, an increase of 11% from 2013. Roughly half of these opted for the United States, where according to the US-based Institute of International Education, Chinese nationals made up 31% of all international students in the 2013/2014 academic year – and with more and more Chinese parents able to afford the hefty price tag that Western pre-college courses invariably carry, the trend looks set to continue into 2015 and beyond.
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A group of 15 Chinese nationals in the U.S. and China schemed to have impostors take college entrance exams by using fake passports for identification in the hopes of obtaining student visas for entry to U.S. universities, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said Thursday.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said the defendants, including two living in Pittsburgh, defrauded Educational Testing Services and the College Board, which administer standardized tests, between 2011 and 2015 by either taking the tests for others or paying others to take the tests for them.
Prosecutors said some of the conspirators had counterfeit Chinese passports made in China and sent to the U.S., where they were used by the impostors to fool administrators into thinking they were other people before taking exams conducted in Pittsburgh and its suburbs.
The conspirators received the benefit of the impostors’ test scores on the SAT and other exams for use at American colleges, one of which is identified in the indictment as Northeastern University in Boston.
The 35-count indictment, handed up May 21 and unsealed Thursday, identifies some of the defendants as students who paid up to $6,000 for others in the U.S. to pretend to be them in taking tests, such as the SAT, at Barack Obama Academy, another testing site in Monroeville and elsewhere.
Five of the defendants are identified as test-takers, including the lead defendant, Han Tong, 24, of Pittsburgh.
Another local defendant was identified as Gong Zhang, 23, who prosecutors said received a fake passport at his address on North Craig Street in Oakland from an unidentified conspirator in China on April 1, 2013, and then used it in posing as someone else that day in taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language.
Prosecutors would not say how many students were able to get into American schools through the scheme but said the investigation is continuing.
“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” said John Kelleghan, agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia, one of the investigating agencies.
It wasn’t clear how the scheme was discovered, but U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Educational Testing Services, based in New Jersey, and the New York-based College Board have cooperated with investigators.
One example of how the scheme typically worked involved Han Tong and Siyuan Zhao, 24, of Massachusetts.
On March 9, 2012, a conspirator accessed Mr. Zhao’s ETS online account and, using Han Tong’s credit card, bought a test to be taken in Mr. Zhao’s name at a Monroeville testing site using a fake passport.
The impostor took the test, prosecutors said, and on March 19 Mr. Zhao accessed the score and had it sent electronically to Northeastern University.
Mr. Zhao was arrested Thursday in Boston and was scheduled to appear in federal court there for a hearing in which prosecutors said they would seek his detention and have him brought to Pittsburgh for trial.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Mr. Tong and 10 others will be issued summonses to appear in U.S. District Court to face the charges.
The names of three others, all in China, remained sealed.
These are the other named defendants: Biyuan Li, 25, of Boston; Jia Song, 20, of Santa Ana, Calif.; Ning Wei, 24, of China; Songling Peng, 19, of Watertown, Wis.; Xi Fu, 26, of Portland, Ore.; Xiaojin Guo, 20, of China; Yudong Zhang, 21, of Blacksburg, Va.; Yue Zou, 20, of Blacksburg, Va.; and Yunlin Sun, 24, of Berlin, Pa., and Pittsburgh.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510.
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..?
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 Zhaopin.com, 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.