说到美国大学的录取问题， www.CNNMoney.com于2010年10月29日发布了一份报告，题为《最昂贵的大学》，历数全美十所费用最高的大学。我想，中国家长可能对这十所大学中的一半都闻所未闻，因为这些学校既非常春藤盟校，也非大型州立名校。在这十所最贵的大学就读的费用——包括学费、食宿费在内——每年要高达52,000 -53,000美元。
Chinese Students Edge Out India for First Place in the U.S.
Continuing on last week’s theme of education, I’ve just seen the latest new report from the U.S. non-profit International Institute for Education, which tracks trends relating to foreign students studying in the U.S., and American students studying abroad.
The 2009/10 figures are interesting for a variety of reasons.
First, a record high number of foreign students enrolled in degree programs in the U.S., despite the global financial crisis. Although the crisis slowed enrollment in the U.S. from many countries, it had no such impact on China. Of a total of 690,923 foreign students in the U.S., those from China grew by 30% over the previous year, to 128,000. Many other countries declined or grew by low single-digit percentages.
Second, for the first time, students from China numbered more than those from any other country. China thus displaced India in the number one spot. India remained at number two, with 105,000 students. South Korea was in third place, and together these three accounted for 44% of all foreign students in the U.S.
Foreign students in the U.S. constitute one of America’s top service sector exports. International students contribute some US$20 billion to the U.S. economy through their tuition and living expenses. The majority of their tuition expenses are not paid by sources within the U.S.
While 128,000 new Chinese students enrolled in degree programs in the U.S., there were 260,327 American students who went abroad for credit, which can include a semester or school year abroad. The top five destinations for American students were the U.K., Italy, Spain, France, and — with 13,674 students — China.
Looking at other sources of data on overseas degree program studies by students from the Chinese mainland, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority choose to study in English speaking countries, with the top destinations being the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Canada. The U.S. remains the top choice by a wide margin.
During the past 20 years, slightly more than 1.5 million Chinese went abroad for study, mostly to pursue graduate degrees. Less than one-third have returned, but in 2009 there was a significant (56%) jump in the number of returnees. Various factors contributed to this, such as a relatively hot economy, better job prospects, and new Chinese government funding for research and development programs. It seems likely that for the foreseeable future, the trend towards a higher percentage of overseas Chinese students returning will continue.
In recent years the number of Chinese students pursuing undergraduate versus graduate degrees overseas has also grown, and now numbers about 25% of the total. The latest trend is towards starting overseas studies at the secondary level, partly to ensure better prospects in the hotly competitive college admissions process.
Speaking of U.S. college admissions, an October 29, 2010 report on www.CNNMoney.com entitled “Most Expensive Colleges”, listed the 10 priciest colleges in the U.S.. I would guess that probably half of the top ten on the list might not be familiar names to Chinese parents, because they are mainly not Ivy League schools or well-known, bigger state universities. The range of annual costs — tuition, room and board — for these ten most expensive schools was US$52,000 to $53,000 per year.
(Note to Mom and Dad: Please do a good job on your financial planning, or hope to win big in VIP baccarat in Macau.)
One thing is for sure. If enrollment in overseas degree programs by Chinese students continues its recent growth trends, and continues to be concentrated in English speaking countries, then my forecast about a huge balloon in the number of advanced English learners in China in 5 to 10 years’ time is not at all far-fetched. It’s already a work in progress.
This has positive implications for the future of China’s “going global” efforts, which will demand talented individuals with first-rate language skills as well as cultural sensitivity and exposure. Such talent is currently in short supply, but if current trends continue, that is going to change.