An increasing number of Chinese parents are paying unscrupulous education agents to prepare their children, who were born and raised in China, to take a special college entrance exam designed for overseas students, China Education Newspaper reports (in Chinese). The strategy is an attempt to find a way for students with average or poor grades to gain admittance to top universities in China, as the exam for overseas students is easier than the usual one that Chinese students have to take and admission thresholds are lower.
Liu Haifeng 刘海峰, dean of the Education Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the newspaper that these “bogus” overseas students are gradually squeezing out “real” foreign students who have spent most of their lives overseas, as the former ones are poised to perform better on Chinese exams.
To qualify for the special exam, students must have permanent residency in a foreign country (including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau), and have lived in that country for at least two of the four years before they apply for the exam.
To tap into the booming demand, many shady education agents are offering desperate parents packages that include preparatory training before studying abroad, assistance with immigration applications, consulting, and enrollment for clients’ children at overseas international high schools. According to the newspaper’s investigation, the total charge for such a package ranges from 320,000 to 500,000 yuan ($46,470 to $72,610). The article also found that top destinations for this type of overseas study are Malaysia and the Philippines, which offer lower costs than Western countries and easier procedures for visas and immigration.
On the social media platform Weibo, many internet users said the report speaks to a broad problem of education inequality in China. “The wealthiest people send their kids abroad. Now students from rich families who have poor grades are knocking good students from poor families out of the competition. This is so frustrating,” one commenter wrote (in Chinese).
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