|As the new academic year begins in China, tens of thousands of students are preparing to fulfill the dream to study overseas.
|In the past few years of teaching in Beijing, I have become used to students approaching me for advice and help in getting into a good foreign school.
|I would never stop anyone from taking this route, but I do wonder about it -- especially as China's Ministry of Education reports 93 percent of those studying abroad are self-funded. Foreign study is not cheap and I wonder if youngsters are getting value for money.
|An estimated 1.27 million mainland students are now studying in foreign universities, with 284,000 alone taking this route in the academic year 2009-2010. In 2000, the number was only 20,000.
|There are well over 80,000 Chinese students attending British universities -- including 1,000 at the famed University of Cambridge. Sheer numbers forced some schools to impose quotas, although for many cash-strapped universities the influx of Chinese paying full course fees -- such as 27,000 pounds (over 280,000 RMB) for a bachelor of arts degree (British students were heavily subsidized until last year) -- has been a Godsend. To this has to be added living costs, of course.
|With international students bringing at least 2 billion pounds annually into the British economy, and the government hoping for a tenfold increase over the next few years, the London Sunday Times alleged some schools were "bending the rules" on academic standards to admit foreigners at the expense of local students purely from financial motives.
|Whether there is any truth in this, I would say that, in regard to the Chinese students I know, the universities have gained some of the world's most hard-working youngsters who "burn the midnight oil" and spend the longest hours of anyone in the research library to succeed.