new oriental

school tourRMB 20,000 for a half month experiencing famous schools

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


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neworientalST Daily reports: “Every year, we find 50 students at PKU from poor families living in remote areas of China and help them complete their studies. This year, we found selecting people truly difficult. There are fewer and fewer children coming from poor families in the distant countryside. I don’t think their standard of living is rising this quickly.” These were the words of New Oriental CEO Michael Yu while discussing educational equality issues, an issue that came up within his own life.

Mr. Yu has previously stressed in previous guest blogger columns that “China must put great effort into using its educational resources to benefit the countryside and outlying areas. Whether in terms of facilities, human resources, or internet infrastructure, we have to dedicate ourselves to the future of these areas, and let the children in countryside and mountain villages come into contact with the outside world, build their dreams, and get into good universities.”


The number of students at nationally administered universities is growing, but are there really no poor students at PKU?

Michael Yu was born in a farming village in Jiangsu. In 1980, he took the gaokao three times, and through this painful experience, eventually was admitted to PKU’s Western Languages department. This experience left him deeply sensitive to issues of equality in access to educational resources for children from the countryside.

“An area’s economic development is directly tied to the level of education received by the people in the area. Students from peripheral areas of China should actually have access to the country’s best educational resources. Only after they successfully complete their studies can they work to bring prosperity to their homes.”

Mr. Yu believes education can change a person, a family, and even more, builds a base for regional development. However, in recent years, China’s top-tier schools such as PKU, Tsinghua, and Fudan have accepted fewer and fewer students from economically underdeveloped areas.

An investigative piece in The Beijing News showed that in 2012, the number of local Beijing students attending Tsinghua stood at 45.3%. There were 810 local Shanghai undergraduates at Fudan, equal to 1/3 of the class. Students from Beijing were significantly more likely to get into PKU than students from other provinces: odds were 41 times better than students from Anhui, 37.5 times better than students from Guangzhou, 35.7 times better than students from Guizhou, and 28 times better than students from Henan.

“I don’t believe that these students have higher IQs than that of students from the countryside,” strongly stated Mr. Yu in his comments about regional imbalances in university admissions rates.

The 985 and 211 Projects at the turn of the century [aimed at building world-class universities across China], involved the participation of local finance ministries in building up nationally administered universities. The local governments put up the funds, and so they required the schools to pay them back. University recruitment has turned into a kind of economic balance sheet, and this has guaranteed that economically poor provinces are unable to succeed in their educational endeavors regardless of their will to do so.

As for this “debt of gratitude” style relationship between local governments and nationally administered universities, Mr. Yu feels that there’s no way to avoid current trends, but that the situation has become too unequal.


Localized gaokao tests divide and classify people: best to have a unified nationwide test

Many local governments have made changes in order to rectify the current disparities between the city and countryside, including localized gaokao tests. But Mr. Yu believes that these localized tests are not the best strategy for fixing educational inequality.

“They actually end up dividing people. One type is local citizens, ones who actually live in a certain place. They can take the localized gaokao, but they’re not the ones who will be able to make real contributions to the development of their areas. The ones who can make these contributions are families living in Beijing without Beijing hukou. The children have lived in Beijing for many years, but for various reasons have not been brought into the system.” Mr. Yu estimates that 40% or more of Beijing’s GDP is produced by individuals without Beijing hukou, but that perhaps only 5% of these people quality for localized gaokao tests.

After analyzing the situation, Mr. Yu suggested that “the gaokao should be turned into a unified nationwide test, and the unified test scores plus quotas of students from various regions should be used to find the best-performing students nationwide.”

“Beijing students could go to Fudan or Zhejiang University to study. There wouldn’t be any new inequality and protectionism.”  Mr. Yu feels there is no need for radical reform, only an enduring trend toward equality, to even the playing field for educational resources nationwide.

Committee member Ge Jianxiong, a professor at Fudan University, feels that simply relying on localized gaokao tests isn’t enough to resolve issues of educational inequality. Planning is needed at the top levels of government since nationally administered universities are ultimately subordinate to the Ministry of Education, and local governments do not have the authority to manage them.

“Nationally administered universities should recruit students from the entire country and shouldn’t be limited by quotas. No matter if they are in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, or Beijing and Shanghai, students should be allowed to take the gaokao. Whether or not they have the ability to test into schools is their own personal issue.” Professor Ge thinks that this is the way to guarantee equality in applying to universities.


Original publication date: 3/5/13


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New Oriental to Close English Training Centers

February 3, 2013

Original publication date: 2/2/13 We reported several days ago that English training mega-school New Oriental may cut staff and close training center locations. This has caused quite a bit of worry among individuals studying with the organization.   Closing 15-25 Education Centers Numerous media outlets have reported in recent days that New Oriental, which has […]

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