It has been a Chinese tradition to send children away to another area or overseas to get a better education. Now the tradition is becoming a fashion which an increasing number of Chinese parents and students find difficult to avoid.
A survey by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization shows that at the end of 2000, there were 1.6 million overseas students studying in 108 countries throughout the world. Of these, 380,000 students, in 103 countries are from China. The largest number from any one country.
It is clear that the globalization of higher education is sweeping China. Since its accession into the World Trade Organization, China has had to meet increasing demands for highly skilled professionals and talented people in many fields.
Meanwhile, China's fast economic development is attracting many foreign educational institutions wanting to try their luck in the country's huge education market.
Richard Riley, a former United States minister of education said during his recent tour to Shanghai that the globalization of higher education will bring many opportunities to China.
At present, ten percent of overseas students studying in the United States are from China and the development of online and remote education as well as educational exchanges are making China's higher education increasingly global.
More private capital can now be used in China's education sector and foreign education programs will be cooperating more with their Chinese counterparts in coming years, said Riley, now a board member of Sylvan International Universities, which is the world largest private educational institution and has launched high quality English training courses in Beijing and Shanghai.
Professors and experts from China and foreign countries are now venturing into educational fields in which their predecessors rarely dared try.
Amb Julia Chang Bloch, a Chinese-American and former United States Ambassador to Nepal, is now lecturing at universities in Beijing and Shanghai, while the distinguished Chinese scholar Yang Fujia is now Chancellor of Nottingham University in the Great Britain.
Yang has urged Chinese universities to learn from foreign educational administrative practices and to become more innovative.
Wu Qidi, president of the Shanghai-based Tongji University, said at a recent seminar on the Globalization of Higher Education being held in Shanghai that universities in the 21st century should pay more attention to cross-cultural communications and enhance understanding between different cultures.
Chinese universities should strive to educate talented people familiar with both international practices and Chinese customs and make Chinese qualifications good enough to be accepted worldwide in the 21st century, according to Wu.
(People's Daily June 8, 2002)