China.org.cn staff reporter
One of the most trusted and recognized language tests in the world, IELTS is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Beijing. On 20th March, the British Council celebrated the anniversary at a 2009 Transnational Education Summit with the theme “Hello China, Hello Tomorrow.”
British Council Director of Examination Services James Shipton told China.org.cn: “It has been my real pleasure and privilege to see the way in which China has developed and changed over the last twenty years. For us in the British Council, giving young people in China the opportunity to take part in an international experience, to become a part of the wider world is an important component of what we are trying to do.”
IELTS is recognized worldwide as a test of real-life communication skills. More than 6,000 educational institutions, government agencies and professional organizations recognize IELTS scores as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true to life ability to communicate in English.
James said that over 1,200,000 tests were held in nearly 500 test centers in 126 countries last year. More than 1.2 million candidates sat IELTS exams.
“To put it another way, we can say that an IELTS test is taken somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. In China, the total number of candidates exceeded 260,000 in 2008,” he said.
At the summit, educationalists, examiners, diplomats and economists talked about trends in overseas education.
UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand universities are widely recognized by Chinese students and parents as among the best in the world, with high quality education resources, internationally recognized qualifications, and simple application procedures for both study visas and post study work visas.
According to the British Council, visa applications from Chinese students to study in the UK in the first six months of 2008 were 46% up over the same period in 2007.
Ms. Zhang Meng, education marketing manager of the British Council, said: “about 23,000 Chinese students were granted visas to study in the UK in 2007, and the success rate for visa applications was 82 percent in China as a whole, and 90 percent in Beijing. There are 60,000 Chinese students in the UK at present, of whom 51,000 are studying at higher education institutions.”
She predicted the education market in China this year would expand even faster than before despite worldwide financial difficulties.