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Sunday, November 20, 2011
Chinese are Fastest Growing Foreign Students at U.S. Universities
The Institute of International Education's Open Doors Report released this week reports that the number of Chinese students enrolling in American universities jumped by 43% percent this year. Of the roughly 723,000 foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges, 22% are Chinese. This sharp increase over a relatively short period of time has opened the floodgate of discussions about whether U.S. campuses are logistically, socially and culturally equipped to deal with such an influx of students from a single region. Such conversations are difficult to engage in since it is impossible to disentangle delicate racial and societal connotations from the dialogue.

The growth in number of Chinese students is attributed largely to China's burgeoning middle-class, as well as to its one-child policy, which means that parents tend to funnel all their energy and financial support into a single child. In China, the U.S. has a reputation for offering stellar third-level education, and the competitive global economy means that Chinese students stand to benefit from improving their mastery of English language and American culture. American universities also win in this scenario; in addition to adding greater cultural dimension to their student bodies, they also enjoy the benefit of China's rigorous secondary-education system, which churns out top-notch students. Another benefit for U.S. colleges?-fewer than 30% of Chinese students seek out any financial aid.

Other teething problems with this cultural exchange are making headlines. Most notably, problems with cheating and plagiarism for Chinese students who may have the grades to get into U.S. colleges, but not the mastery of English. There are also problems with assimilation for the Chinese students, and tolerance from their American counterparts. American recruiting within China's borders has raised ethical concerns. Professors struggle to tailor curriculum and class atmosphere to two very different cultures. Most experts see the obstacles as surmountable over time. For a wonderfully detailed discussion: The Chronicle


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