Qingdao Daily News: Several travel agencies told reporters yesterday that although there are still more than two months before students start summer vacation, the number of families inquiring about and signing up for various “overseas study travel” programs is growing steadily. These programs are the best sellers of the season, and have become the main product of the travel agencies.
Reasonably priced “foreign top school travel”
Mrs. Liu, is a resident of Qingdao city and the mother of a 6th year student. Last week, her child brought home a flyer for a summer camp based at famous foreign schools, saying that several students in the class were planning to go together, and he wanted to join them. Mrs. Liu saw the names of Ivy League schools all over the brochure as soon as she looked at it. According to the information, students get close contact with top schools in the US, and can interact with American children. It was very enticing.
A new goldmine
Liang Xiaohan, a tour manager at Qingdao Chaoyi Tour Agency, told reporters that during previous summers, their main focus has been on sightseeing tours for families with children. But starting this summer, they have focused their main efforts on short-term international study trips, and are testing out the promotion of several US famous school travel products. Since the number of children wanting to study abroad is growing, many parents hope their children can go experience foreign schools first, so these study trips are increasingly common. Additionally, for the travel agencies, although the price of these trips isn’t low, the profits are much higher than those made on regular internationally bound programs.
It’s not just travel agencies that are using short-term study abroad tours to attract customers; banks are using them to advertise as well. In recent days, CITIC Bank and New Oriental Education launched a US Summer Camp program, attracting the attention of many parents in Qingdao. Answering questions from reporters, the individual from CITIC Bank responsible for organizing the program said that its main focus is to let students deeply experience life at famous schools. In addition to study, students would spend one week touring the east and west coasts of the United States, tour the best schools in the country, visit six major cities, and get a comprehensive sense of the university and urban life of the US.
Be reasonable about “mini study abroad”
The number of people participating in study abroad, including these tours now being called “mini study abroad”, is increasing by 30% per year. The price is increasing rapidly as well, with costs rising from just over RMB 10 thousand several years ago to RMB 30 to 40 thousand now.
Reporters found that when these study tours first started, their main content included visiting tour sites, seeing famous educational establishments, attending specialized courses, local homestays, and visits to high tech research bases, all of which helped children integrate into local society and local life, as well understand the local educational system. Nowadays, so-called study abroad tours are simply sightseeing at colleges and universities, with only a few hours in ten days worth of travel for face-to-face contact with representatives from the schools. The remaining time is spent in transit between various well-known tourist spots, and even includes stops at large commercial centers. In developed countries, for students to have organized and well-planned study trips is very popular, and is seen as an important component of high-quality education. But domestically, there is still quite a bit of debate over the value of these tours. One well-known website conducted an investigation of study abroad tours, finding that 56.93% of those surveyed felt “promotions should note if there are more tour activities than study activities.” 14.23% felt that study abroad tours “increase family burden, and cause mindless status symbol consumption.” Only 28.84% surveyed felt that study abroad tours could “expand horizons and are worth promoting.”
Original date of publication: 4/22/2013