Current Situation of Chinese Higher Education


2.      Prospects of Overseas Study


China is a populous developing country. Its existing higher education, especially degree education, is quite insufficient to people who are at the right age for higher education. Chinese higher education is far from meeting people¡¯s desire for education and this is a large problem considering higher education is such an important means of improving people¡¯s overall quality of life and helping them realize their potential. Along with social and economic development and increasing competition after China¡¯s entry into the WTO, China now urgently needs educated individuals to lead the way in various fields.

Limited resources, and universities unable to keep up with student demand, creates a restrictive environment in terms of the development of China¡¯s science and technology industry and the improvement of Chinese people¡¯s quality of life. The liberalization of the Chinese economy led to a serious shortage of well-educated and trained workers and managers that an already stretched national education system could not provide. This rapid development of the Chinese economy demands a high standard of higher education, which has resulted in a fast growth of the supplement to higher education.

On the other hand, Chinese economic system has been developing in diverse directions since its reforming and open-up policy. Many kinds of economic models have gradually come into being and changed the former situation of only state-owned and collectively-run enterprises. Some economic developments such as joint venture companies, sole ownership companies, and joint stock companies provided more Chinese people with opportunities to develop.  Thus, some people who had foresight about the changing economic situation become wealthy, creating a class of society with rising disposable incomes and high savings rates.  Many of these new Chinese families were financially able to send their children abroad to be educated.  This reforming and open-up policy gradually gave Chinese people more knowledge about foreign countries and their products, leading to a greater understanding and acceptance of foreign cultures and education, etc. Therefore, some of them, who want to experience foreign cultures and international education - and have enough money to do so - go abroad and receive western higher education.  Canada and China have historically had a close relationship and many students view Canada as a welcoming country with high quality education and thus choose it as their destination.  The United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand are other possibilities of course, but we will limit our focus to Canada for the time being,

To sum up, the prerequisites for a vast overseas study market are the combination of insufficient higher education resources in China and an increase in Chinese families who are able to pay for their children to study overseas.  Another related factor is the growing perception that an international degree often ensures young professionals significant advantages when they return to China¡¯s increasingly competitive marketplace.  All of these have laid a solid foundation for the overseas study market which is currently booming in three dominant areas: intermediate agencies, preparatory programs, and cooperative education programs.

© Canadian National Education Exchange Centre Inc., 2006