With similar cultural backgrounds and comparatively-low tuitions, Singapore is becoming a new magnet for Chinese students studying abroad.
According to a report by the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of the United Nations, about 25,000 Chinese students choose to study abroad annually, making it the largest student exporter in the world.
In Singapore alone, there are 13,000 to 15,000 Chinese students, accounting for one third of the total number of its international students, statistics show.
"Singapore enjoys a favourable geographic location where the Western and Eastern cultures meet," said Wang Yongli, educational counsellor at China's Embassy in Singapore. "It has thus set a good example for its Asian neighbours on sifting and digesting useful principles of the market economy from the West."
For Chinese students, study in Singapore is easier since courses such as English, information technology, accounting and finance are taught in bilingual languages, he said.
The number of Chinese officials dispatched by the central and local governments for training in Singapore is about 2,000 each year. Those students, along with those sent by enterprises, make Singapore China's largest training center abroad, according to the counsellor.
Chinese students feel at home since the language and social and cultural customs are so similar.
"In my eyes, Singapore feels like another hometown of mine where lots of people speak Chinese as well as English. And the tropical climate is no different from Xiamen," said Dai Yi, a 26-year old tour guide from Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province, who decided to study in Singapore after working at a tourism company for three years.
Diplomas and certificates issued by Singapore's universities and colleges are also widely recognized by other countries.
In the past 20 years, a total of 350,000 Chinese people studied abroad, 120,000 of whom have returned to China, statistics indicate.
But while the surging tide of overseas studies can provide great opportunities, it has also caused some companies to take advantage of unsuspecting students.
About 100 Chinese students became homeless in Singapore after they were cheated out of their rent money by a house-renting agent, the China News Agency reported recently.
Students should carefully research the agencies and schools to which they apply, officials from Education Office at China's Embassy in Singapore suggested.
(People's Daily May 16, 2002)