A serving of events from study abroad around the world
The calendar has already turned past 2012. This year, study abroad policies from around the world were good overall, though student safety incidents did occur occasionally (including issues of a personal, academic, and financial nature). We can’t help but sigh a bit. Going abroad is a personal investment, but one absolutely must remain vigilant and choose the right path.
In 1864, China’s “father of study abroad” Yung Wing recommended that the Qing government send young children abroad to study and receive guidance. In the summer of 1872, Yung Wing organized the first group of 30 children to study abroad in America, the opening act of China’s study abroad saga.
February 16th: The Challenging Gaokao Opens the Way to University of Sydney
On February 16th, the University of Sydney began to formally accept the gaokao scores of Chinese students. In the beginning of July, the school announced the minimum score for applicants from Guangdong– 589 points. The score is in line with the tier one score for humanities, and just five points higher than the tier one score for sciences. For students graduating this year, this means there’s no need to take prep courses after they have taken the gaokao if they want to apply to University of Sydney, saving a year’s worth of time and class fees. However, most majors at University of Sydney require a IELTS test score of over 6.5, which is not at all easy for high school students to achieve.
Reporter’s commentary: An Australian university ranked highly alongside Qinghua and Peking University accepting gaokao tier one scores– isn’t this just blatantly making a big mess of things? But there is an advantage to Chinese students– now their options are starting to expand. Perhaps there will be more and more Australian universities accepting the gaokao in coming years, which of course will relieve a bit of stress and let students study more English during high school. Students could use the lighter periods of the 11th grade to improve their IELTS scores. Certainly, no matter how low the minimum scores of these universities are, there will always be competition.
February 29th: The UK Tightens Up on Work Visas for Students
The UK announced that starting in April it would stop issuing the PSW visa that allowed foreign students two years in the country while seeking work. Instead, it would begin to require the harder to obtain T2 and Graduate Entrepreneur visas. The T2 visa requires applicants to have already found work in the UK, obtained a border control-recognized company-issued guarantee, as well as have obtained a letter of employment with an annual salary of no less than 20,000 pounds. The Graduate Entrepreneur visa requires the student’s university to recognize the student as “having outstanding international-level innovation and entrepreneurial abilities”, as well as a letter of recommendation from the school, in order to apply. This means it’s now harder than before to stay in the UK to work after graduation. For most foreign students in the UK, not continuing studies after graduation will be the equivalent of heading back to their home country. According to the British authorities, these measures are to stop the phenomenon of foreigners entering on student visas specifically for the purpose of looking for work.
Reporter’s commentary: Although this does tighten up on visas for international students seeking work, this should not decrease the UK’s welcoming of foreign students. If you want to take a year to get your M.A., no problem. And what about going home to find work? All that glitters is gold. Actually, even with the requirements of the original visa, it might take over half a year of prep time to find a suitably focused job. Don’t think you won’t have to rely on connections to get you a job abroad– foreigners place more importance on a “familiar face”, and like to give work to competent people who they recognize. A Chinese working abroad once told our reporters “When searching for work abroad, if people don’t know about your abilities, and then they also see that you’re a foreigner, who’s going to hire you?”
July: History’s Largest Study Abroad Fraud Uncovered in New Zealand
In the course of conducing random checks of visa application materials, the Immigration Bureau of New Zealand discovered that of 1800 Chinese applications, 279 contained falsifications of academic and financial records. This is the largest-scale case of study abroad fraud in New Zealand’s history. Soon after, Bureau Chief Steve Stewarts indicated that of the 279 Chinese students, 231 were still in New Zealand, and that they faced possible deportation due to the fraud. In November, after three months of independent investigation, The New Zealand Immigration Bureau had issued deportation notices to 49 of the Chinese students, among which 16 had already returned to China. The visa applications of these students had been submitted mainly after July, and were made mainly through two Chinese study abroad agencies.
Reporter’s commentary: Bad agencies causing failure in study abroad can be found everywhere. Get online and check whether or not the agency you’re working with is on the Ministry of Education’s list of approved agencies. This one small step might save you a lot of trouble later.
August: US Publishes Global List of “Diploma Mills”
In August, the US Department of Education in conjunction with the Oregon and Maine Departments of Education issued a new global blacklist of diploma mills, exposing 691 unaccredited and unlicensed higher education institutions and educational organizations. Among the names on the list, only 342 were in the United States. On the list of diploma mills were 67 schools in the UK, 19 schools in Nigeria, 18 in Italy, 16 in India, 15 in Liberia, and 11 in Canada, among others.
Reporter’s commentary: When high quality education comes up, we Chinese always like to mention the US. But even the US Department of Education is warning the world: There are 342 diploma mills right on American soil! There are risks to study abroad, applicants beware! You should check if the school you are applying to is on this list, all you have to do it go to the Department of Education Foreign Affairs website and take a look at the list to figure it out.
Ministry of Education Warns: Check the Rosters of Joint-Venture School
August is the enrollment period for new students at colleges and universities. The Ministry of Education warned on their official website that students should verify joint-venture organizations and programs they are selecting have been officially accredited. This will help students avoid being defrauded. Students should also pay attention to how academic records and diplomas are issued. According to regulations, students must take part in the national common college and university enrollment program in order to be issued Chinese or joint-venture academic records and diplomas.
The Ministry of Education unveiled a higher education joint-administration academic program foreign diploma authentication and registration verification system (based on the joint-administration management operations information system platform) on December 1, 2011. Those studying at joint-administered programs and organizations can use their full name and national ID number to verify their foreign-issued diploma information after one month of matriculation. If after one month the student is unable to find the related information, then the foreign-issued diploma is not an accredited one.
Reporter’s commentary: These days, study abroad is no longer the exclusive domain of children with rich parents. Families with a bit less money are often willing to select joint-administered programs. But it’s a large forest full of different types of birds. When there’s so much fat on the joint-venture pig, who wouldn’t want to cut a piece off? Even legitimate colleges might set up non-standard partnerships. It’s still, “Are you afraid to ask?” It’s best to be careful. Before you make a wish, check the credentials of the school. It doesn’t hurt.
Criminals Steal Study Abroad Student’s QQ Number to Cheat Others Out of Money
On August 3rd, QQ messenger software began to display a warning message, “Recently there has been an increase in the risk of theft of the QQ accounts of students studying abroad. Users should increase vigilance.” Logging onto the Tengxun Safety Center, the newest topic on the Student Safety Channel was entitled Millions of Users Join Hands to Fight Fraud. According to the discussion, recently, the parents of study abroad students have been defrauded again and again via video chat, and while the degree of loss varies, it is on average over 10,000 RMB. Generally, criminals are stealing the QQ numbers of students abroad and initiating text chats with the families of their friends, or otherwise providing pre-recorded video of the QQ account holder to gain trust, then cheating the families out of money. Theft of study abroad student QQ numbers is only increasing over the past year or two. There is no seasonality to the crimes, which happen both during periods of intense study as well as over academic breaks. With criminals taking advantage of any opportunity, it’s hard to prevent these crimes.
Reporter’s commentary: Fortunately, the parents of the group of students going to study abroad these days were born during the sixties and seventies, and understand computers. Reporters found in interviews that although parents have encountered such situations in the past, the majority were able to keep a cool head and avoid being defrauded. However, if a parent is a “tech idiot”, they should be notified to be on guard against such crimes.