Friday, 29 May 2015

Study In China - For American Students in China, Some Risks, No Regrets

Life in the People's Republic can be trying -- but for a young American, it's also transformative. FP surveys a rising generation of cross-cultural natives.

There was a time not long ago, before the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1979, when travel between the two countries was a rare, even astonishing act. For Americans, China was mostly something glimpsed across the border from the British colony of Hong Kong; the vast territory of the People’s Republic to its north was what scholar Orville Schell calls “terra incognita,” with an “air of mesmerizing impenetrability and unpossessability.” For Chinese, escaping Mao-era poverty and social controls to the unimaginable wealth of the United States was an all but impossible dream.

Fast-forward to today. For a growing number of global citizens, boarding a plane from New York bound for Beijing is only slightly more uncommon than flying to Houston or San Francisco. Among those who make the trans-Pacific journey, perhaps no group more deeply commands our attention than students in institutions of higher education. During the 2013-2014 academic year, over 274,000 Chinese students went Stateside to pursue higher education. In the 2012-2013 academic year, the last year for which U.S. statistics are available, over 14,000 American students did the reverse.

Certainly, no group is more poised to alter the trajectory of the U.S.-China relationship, one fraught with friction but also characterized by ever-proliferating contact points. Those who become fluent in both China and America — not just both languages, but both cultures, modes of doing business, and frameworks for interpreting the world — are likely to thrive in the new century as much-sought, and much needed, cross-cultural natives. But who are these people, how has their time abroad changed them, and what might their impact be both on the massive industry of higher education and, ultimately, the world’s most important bilateral relationship? In China U, a new series, Foreign Policy seeks to answer these questions. In the first entry, FP asks 343 Americans who have studied in China in degree or non-degree granting higher education programs to share their experiences. Highlights from those findings are below.

To compile results, FP reached out to 210 schools and not-for-profit organizations, who then distributed the survey to students and alumni who had previously participated in study abroad programs bringing students from the United States to China. Among respondents, Johns Hopkins University (and its Hopkins-Nanjing Center), the U.S. non-profit Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), and Brigham Young University were the most represented U.S. sending institutions, while East China Normal University, Nanjing University, and Peking University were the most represented host institutions.

Of those surveyed, nearly 54 percent identified themselves as men; over 45 percent identified themselves as women. Almost 64 percent were between 18 and 24 years of age; over 20 percent were 25 to 29 years old, and only 4 percent were over 40. They were almost evenly split between current students and alumni. Nearly half said they could read a newspaper in Chinese. In most cases, answers did not differ materially along the axes of age, gender, language skill, or status as a student or alumni. 

Most of those who responded to our survey were the first in their family to study abroad. Of 343 American respondents, 69.4 percent said they were the first to study in a foreign country, while 28.9 percent had family members who had studied abroad before:

In other words, it would appear that the growing numbers of Americans studying in places like Beijing and Shanghai aren’t just the progeny of those who once studied in Paris or London.

Students in China made friends with Chinese people, but still tended to move in foreign circles. The picture for integration is mixed. While only 11.6 percent of respondents said they had no Chinese friends while living there, 55.9 percent responded that fewer than half of those in their friend circle were Chinese nationals, and only 3.8 percent said that all of their friends in China were host country nationals:

Those abroad for the first time were slightly more bi-culturally social, with 4 percent reporting that all of their friends in China were Chinese, and 47 percent responding that half or more than half of their friends were Chinese (versus 44.1 percent above). While the numbers fall short of full integration, the personal narratives evince many instances of pleasant surprise. Victor Zheng, now a senior at the University of Virginia who studied at East China Normal University in Shanghai in 2014, told FP that he’d expected to spend most of his time with American peers, but found himself “making local friends every day.”

Living in China makes people feel more fondly about China. Overwhelmingly, living in China changed students’ views of the country for the better. A full 78.4 percent said living in China had made them “more positive” toward the country. Just 12.2 percent reported feeling “more negative” toward their host, while 9.4 percent reported no change:

Many found the curiosity and hospitality of their hosts disarming. Multiple respondents described friendly and serendipitous encounters with curious Chinese — even, in some cases, when administrators or authorities had warned Chinese students on campus to keep a careful distance from foreigners. Respondents described making new friends or acquaintances everywhere — from a crowded train to a Starbucks to a monastery. Ashley Rivenbark, who studied in Hangzhou in 2014 through the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship and now works at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte in North Carolina said, “The people of China are perhaps the most hospitable people in the world.”

None of this means respondents found living in China easy; quite the contrary. Chinese pollution can be nasty, and one student (who wished to remain anonymous) reported contracting cholera. A number of respondents described witnessing domestic violence on Chinese streets, with passersby doing nothing to intervene. Press censorship, a fact of life in China, chafed some there; Tawni Sasaki, currently a junior at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, who studied abroad at Peking University in Beijing, said she was “shocked to find out the volume of information that I missed” upon returning home.

Then there’s the Chinese language, which the Foreign Service Institute has classified as among the most difficult for an American to master. Greg Levin, a consultant in the Bay Area who studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, called Chinese “a very difficult language to learn,” and one that “never truly loves you back.” Even for those determined to master the language and integrate culturally, the challenges are steep in a country that tends to conflate nationality and race. Americans of Chinese origin say they were regularly expected to have mastered Mandarin, despite not having grown up in China. And Americans of other ethnic backgrounds were treated with curiosity, but it was clear they would never be treated as Chinese. Rachel Deason, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate who studied at Sun Yat-sen University and plans to move to Shanghai this year, called it “unsettling to think that the country I am devoting my studies and life to will never fully accept me as one of its own.”

Enthusiasm for working in China and using Chinese is high — but less so after life intervenes. Overall, 49 percent said they either currently work in China, or plan to work there after school. And over 82 percent say they use, or plan to use, the Chinese language in their work. But in both cases, those who had left school were far less likely to answer affirmatively, with only 31 percent saying they work or plan to work in China, versus 67 percent of current students:

It’s possible that the initial ardor to pursue work in China cools once students return stateside and learn both of the opportunities that await them at home, and the real-life constraints and risks inherent in working abroad.

American students didn’t emerge bullish on starting a business in China. Rather than asking for direct opinions on China’s economy — a giant, complex system on which it’s hard for even experts to agree — we asked respondents where they would open a business if they had to choose. With China’s dizzying GDP growth rate — which has averaged over 9 percent annually over the past quarter century — the country has often been depicted as a land of milk and honey for expats with the right language skills. But that does not mean respondents perceived it as an ideal place to start a business; at least, not yet:

As Chinese authorities try to create a cozy home for entrepreneurs, those numbers may shift. For now, the risks of starting a business in a foreign country with a suspect legal regime and a reputation for copying instead of innovating struck most respondents as too great.

Studying in China was almost always worth it. We asked students and alumni whether they thought that living in China “was worth the time, effort, and expense required.” A whopping 97.1 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative:

Flexibility and adaptability are at a premium in China. Virginia Hawkins Scharf lives with her husband in a hutong, or traditional alleyway, in Beijing. She reported that her husband once found himself routinely awoken by a neighbor’s rooster, until conceiving of the idea to ask his housekeeper to purchase it for $30. (It’s unknown what fate ultimately befell the rooster.) Anne Rebull, now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago and formerly a student at Tsinghua University through the Inter-University Program there, said that while taking in a performance of traditional Beijing opera, she watched as a McDonald’s deliveryman with a motorcycle helmet and red and yellow suit dropped off an insulated bag of food for puckish audience members in the middle of the show. And then there’s Michael Pareles, a current MBA student at Wharton who found himself in China as a Fulbright Scholar in 2008. He was slated to perform research in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, until riots in the neighboring region of Tibet convinced jumpy authorities to spike Pareles’ plans. Instead, he turned his energies to coaching a team of ethnically Chinese-Kazakh students from Xinjiang studying in Beijing. The team was called Air Kazakh, and with Pareles as coach, it won the 2008 Chinese National Ultimate Frisbee Championship. All four answered they thought their time in China was worth the time, effort, and expense involved.

Of course, none of these findings are conclusive. FP relied on schools, non-profits, and alumni associations to share our survey, and respondents were entirely self-selecting. At the very least, that makes it likely that respondents felt more strongly about their time in China than the overall population of Americans who have studied in China. Yet as a group, survey respondents were diverse, and the overwhelming sentiment that the trip to China was worth the trouble is likely broadly indicative. So is the increased positive sentiment among those who made the trek.

And beneath the U.S.-China interaction lurks certain fundamental similarities.  FP’s survey also welcomed non-American respondents, and while their answers are not analyzed in this article, one narrative stood out. Lara Coebergh, a Dutch student attending the CIEE summer course in 2012 at East China Normal University, wrote that Americans and Chinese shared a highly social dormitory culture and a fervor for campus sports, neither familiar to her. During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Coebergh writes, “American and Chinese students seemed to amalgamate through a common love for basketball. I, on the other hand, had to watch Dutch gymnast and local hero Epke Zonderland winning the Gold medal doing the first triple Cassina-Kovacs-Kolman combination in history on my own, somewhere in a hallway with a grumpy Chinese guard, who was nice enough to switch channels for a few minutes.” Coebergh told FP, “I expected to easily spot the cultural differences while getting to know both groups. In reality, I was actually struck by the similarities” between the two, even as both groups remained “oblivious” to their many shared characteristics. “American academic culture,” she wrote, “has touched the Chinese student life at its core.” (Source -

Quick Link - All You Need to Know About Further Education in China

Related Articles :

1. "Understanding China" is An Employable Skill for American Students

Thursday, 28 May 2015

China is One of The Hot Destinations for UK Students Who Prefer to Study Abroad

Number of UK university students travelling abroad as part of study soars by 50 per cent

28,640 UK students went abroad last year either to study or take up an internship as part of their course - up from 18,105 on the previous year

The number of students at UK universities who went abroad as part of their studies soared by 50 per cent last year, according to figures released.

The figures have been hailed by academics as a sign that Britain might just be about top shed its image as a “language dunce” because of the drop in the number of young people studying languages.

The figures show 28,640 UK students went abroad last year either to study or take up an internship as part of their course - up from 18,105 on the previous year.

They include 15,566 students on the Erasmus project - where students get to study or work for a year in another European country as part of a deal originally set up by the EU’s Lifelong Learning programme.  This in itself was a 6.8 per cent increase on the previous year.

Professor Rebecca Hughes, the British Council’s Director of Education, said: “This latest evidence confirms that a growing number of the UK’s students are recognising the huge value to be gained from international experience.

 “The UK needs graduates who have the skills and confidence to compete globally and can compete against foreign talent that may speak more languages and have wider international experience.”

One of the most popular destinations abroad is Maastricht University which is now taking on 400 UK students and which also teaches through the medium of English. University bosses have taken part in university open days in the UK to woo more students to their campus.

However, the United States is still the most popular destination - with figures showing an eight per cent rise last year which meant there are now over 10,000 UK students studying in America.  Harvard and Yale are amongst the most popular but the opportunity to win sports scholarships has lured other students to universities like the University of Connecticut.

Coming up on the outside as a favoured institution is the University of Beijing - particularly in the light of China’s growing economic world status.

A survey by the British Council of almost 3,000 UK students revealed more than a third of UK students were now interested in studying abroad at undergraduate level. (Alamy)

One student, George Harding-Rolls, who won a scholarship to Beijing University , said:  “It opens your eyes. One of the things that I’ve done since I came out here is climb the Great Wall.”

He added:  “The people and the country are trying to cling on to their history and it develops into becoming the number one economic power in the world.”

In recognition of the growing trend towards studying abroad, UCAS - the university and colleges admissions service,  has said it will consider requests from institutions on the continent to join the system if they can show they meet the same standards as universities in Britain.

Some universities - like Nottingham - have now set up campuses abroad, Ben Hunte studied for his degree for three year at their Malaysian campus rather than the UK.


“I got an awful lot from studying abroad,” he said.  I had the opportunity to do so much out there - I got the opportunity to start a business out there.”

He introduced the campus to the idea of a student magazine and then ran an events organisation in addition to chronicling the life of the university in a weekly YouTube show. 

He is now back in the UK on a Sainsbury’s graduate scheme - learning management skills - but admits to having “itchy feet” after three years of studying abroad.

A survey by the British Council of almost 3,000 UK students revealed more than a third of UK students were now interested in studying abroad at undergraduate level. The research will be launched at a conference next week.

Study abroad: Some of the most popular destinations

One of the most popular universities for UK students in Maastricht in the Netherlands which has seen a major increase in enrolments.  It now takes about 400 British students and charges fees of around £1,500 a year.  Courses are taught through the medium of English.

The American Ivy League universities are still amongst the most prestigious in the world - their only rivals in international league tables are Oxford and Cambridge.  US universities saw an eight per cent increase in UK enrolments last year - bringing the total attending institutions in the States to just over 10,000.  The five most popular were Harvard, Columbia, New York, University of California Berkeley and Yale.

Beijing University in China is fast becoming a popular overseas destination for UK students - particularly for business-related degrees as China’s economic success continues unabated and new markets for UK business open up there.  It has done a deal with the Government to waive fees for courses in Mandarin.

If you fancy studying nearer home, though, Trinity College, Dublin, where students pay no fees but have a service charge of £2,500 a year, is ranked as one of the most prestigious in the world.  It has won praise for the quality of its three faculties: (i) arts, humanities and social science,(ii)engineering, maths and science and (iii) health sciences.

The University of Paris or the Sorbonne - as it is often called - is the highest ranking European university outside the UK for arts and humanities courses and a popular destination for UK students.  Fees are just below £2,000 a year.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Confucius Says It's Time for Irish Students to Fly to China

UCC students Qinshina Bu; Yongbin Xia UCC Confucius Institute director; Qi Qi; Billy Lonegan; Siliang Zhu; Lzhong Zhao and Duojiao Shan, pictured at the launch of the Shanghai Education Exhibition which will take place in City Hall Cork on June 2. Photo: Darragh McSweeney
Next week, staff from 25 universities and eight secondary schools in China will arrive in Ireland hoping to attract students.

PUBLISHED - 27/05/2015

No foreign country has become so embedded in our education system in recent years as China.

Hanban, the propaganda arm of the Chinese communist party, provides courses in Mandarin in Irish schools and universities through its two Confucius institutes at UCD and UCC.

It is involved in teacher training and offers scholarships for trips to China.
There are now "Confucius classrooms" in some of our best-known schools, including Blackrock College, Belvedere and Clongowes.

Many students will welcome the opportunity to study Mandarin, and possibly travel to China on a course, possibly on a scholarship.

Every year, hundreds of transition-year students travel to the country for Easter camps.
The Irish Government is keen to foster these links. However, some will questions whether schools, universities, and the Department of Education should be so closely involved with an undemocratic state that restricts freedom of speech.

The 25 universities and eight schools from Shanghai will hold a meeting in Cork City Hall next Tuesday and hope to enrol students. These could be undergraduates studying in Shanghai for a year, or PhD students doing research.

Up to 18 students from UCC travel to China every year on scholarships, and have their tuition, accommodation and other expenses paid for.

Students who are not on scholarships pay €3,000 per year as well as their flights.
Yongbin Xia, director of the Confucius Institute at UCC, says: "There is increased interest among Irish students in travelling to study, because of the growing links between Ireland and China.

"The most popular courses are in Chinese business and marketing."

The traffic is not all one-way, with thousands of Chinese students coming here to study. They now comprise up to 10pc of the non-EU student population at UCD.

Confucius institutes are often compared to organisations such as the British Council and the German Goethe institutes.

They are seen as a way of promoting the country's language and culture abroad.
Over 350 Confucius institutes have opened in universities around the world, and they are seen as part of China's "soft-power diplomacy".

Their influence may be growing in schools and colleges, but they have not escaped criticism.
Mike Jennings, general secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, says: "There is international unease at higher education and particularly research institutes being under the direct control of a state.

"We would have concerns about academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and the ability to criticise."

Last year, the American Association of University Professors called on universities to reconsider their partnerships with the centres.
The association said: "These centres are subject to considerable oversight from the Chinese government that, in some cases, places limitations on academic freedom and threatens their scholastic integrity."

"Their academic activities are under the supervision of Hanban, a Chinese state agency which is chaired by a member of the Politburo and the vice premier of the People's Republic of China."

Jongbin Xia, director of the Confucius Institute in UCC, said claims that the institutes limit full freedom to discuss all the political issues are unfair.

The Confucius Institute operates as part of UCC's School of Asian Studies.

Mr Jongbin says: "Our teachers from the Confucius Institute are only involved in teaching the Chinese language. The other political subjects at UCC are provided by the School of Asian Studies."

Regardless of political concerns, Mandarin is likely to grow in importance in Irish schools in the coming years. The Chinese language will be offered as a short course for the new Junior Cycle in a number of schools.

China's ambassador to Ireland, Jianguo Xu, has expressed "surprise" at the fact that Chinese is the only official language of the UN not examined at Leaving Certificate level.

'Shanghai made Ireland seem like a village'

Billy Lonergan, a sixth-year student at Colaiste an Phiarsaigh, has already studied Chinese for five months at Shanghai University.

He worked hard in fifth year to keep ahead in his Leaving Cert, and spent last September to January in the Chinese college on a scholarship. "I stayed in a campus dormitory for international students. It was a great challenge, but I embraced it. The place is so big that it makes the whole of Ireland look like a village. I hope to go to Shanghai on another scholarship some time.

"I had got a scholarship because I won a Chinese language competition. I took a night class at UCC, because I like Chinese. It was something different. Then, when the course was over, I learned the language myself on the internet."

White board jungle

Students need to know when they can use 'ridic' and when 'ridiculous' is needed in writing, argues the linguistics academic Dr Mark Garner in the latest issue of the 'Times Educational Supplement'.

Scrabble caused a stir this month by approving a raft of new terms, including 'ridic' in its latest wordlist. Much to the chagrin of fuddy-duddies everywere 'lolz', 'emoji' and 'twerking' will now be allowed in the boardgame.

These words may be allowed in Scrabble, but Dr Garner, of Roehampton University, says pupils in school still need to grasp which words are suitable in exams, essays and job applications. When is it inappropriate to be informal?

"Pupils cannot expect to get away with using 'tuneage' in a music essay to describe a song they like," he says.

"The argument can be summed up as 'to each its own place'. 'Laughter' is appropriate in formal writing, whereas 'lolz' might be acceptable - even preferable - on Twitter."
As someone said of 'Macbeth' in a Shakespeare essay for an exam, "that's pure mental."
Irish Independent

Source - Irish Independence

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Increasing Number of Indians Studying in China

May 25, 2015 

Beijing: An increasing number of Indian students are coming to study in China, mostly in the medical field, while the number of Chinese students studying in India is holding steady, media reported on Monday.

According to China's education ministry, India has in recent years remained one of the top 10 sources of international students in China, China Daily reported.

Last year, 13,578 Indian students were studying in China, compared with only 765 a decade ago.

Eighty percent of them were following undergraduate clinical medical courses in different medical institutions in China, the Indian embassy in Beijing said. 

The second most sought after course for the Indian students is Chinese language and culture, the embassy said.

Bhawna Bhatnagar, 26, who is studying Chinese at Beijing Language and Culture University, said she has a lot of interest in Chinese culture. 

"And, as Indian and Chinese civilisations are two of the oldest in the world, it's interesting to study them and learn the similarities and differences," she said.

Studying courtesy the support of a Chinese government scholarship, Bhatnagar said she was happy overall with her studies. 

"I am satisfied with the scholarship, which I think provides most of the things I need to live here comfortably," she said.

Another woman from India is studying Chinese language and literature in China as she wants to learn the language in its native country.

"Just as a Chinese proverb says: Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times," she said, adding that her study and stay in China had been a wonderful experience, and she would like to have a job related to China in the future.

The number of Chinese students in India has remained steady, but "very low", at about 2,000 for the last few years, according to the Indian embassy.

A majority of Chinese students in India are studying at undergraduate levels in diverse subjects, with Hindi language being a favourite.

Zhong Jiacheng, a student from China's Jiangxi province, is studying e-commerce at India's Vellore Institute of Technology. The 21-year-old said many Chinese students are unwilling to study in India because they think the social environment there is not very safe, especially for female students.

"In fact, it's OK, not as bad as people imagined," Zhong said, adding that there are about 40 Chinese female students at his university.

What attracted Zhong to India were the low expenses, the English environment and the culture.

"My annual expenses here, including the tuition, the living expense, and everything, is about $5,000. It's much cheaper than many other English-speaking destinations for overseas study," he said.

Source -

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Expat Pay Is Getting Fatter In China

Expat compensation packages are swelling in China as the rising cost of living and increased pollution make it more challenging to attract international talent.

Mainland China climbed to fourth place and overtook Hong Kong in the latest ranking of expatriate pay packages in the Asia-Pacific region, a survey by consulting firm ECA International showed.

A total package for an expatriate middle manager in Mainland China is now worth over $276,000 per year on average.

In Hong Kong, the package is around $272,000 per year, slightly lower than in Shanghai and Beijing.

Source: ECA International

However, far from all Chinese cities require such high pay.

“The cost of benefits provision in tier-2 locations is still much lower than in tier-1 cities and if those cities, alone, were to be taken into account, Mainland China would appear towards the bottom of the regional ranking above only Malaysia and Pakistan,” said Lee Quane, Asia director of ECA.

Three main elements determine the cost of an expatriate package: the cash salary, benefits – such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars – and tax.

Higher salaries and increased benefit costs, as well as a stronger yuan, may explain the rise of China in the rankings. But employees also find it tough to attract international talent due to factors like the apocalyptic pollution and concern over food security. Last year, twice as many expats moved out of China than into the country, according to a study by UniGroup Relocation.

With that said, China remains a popular expat destination. A 2014 HSBC survey showed that China is the third most desirable expat destination, behind Switzerland and Singapore.

“China is the best place for expats looking to make their money go further, with 76% of expats in the country experiencing growth in their spending power once they’ve moved,” the bank said.

The survey, which was carried in a CNN report, showed that about a quarter of expats in China make more than $300,000 in annual salary, the highest proportion of any country.

Expat jobs that are especially in demand in China include banking and financial services, sales and marketing, human resources, advertising and communications, manufacturing and industry, health sciences and IT, according to Expat Arrivals, a website supplying destination information. Teachers are always sought after.

Japan is home to Asia’s highest expatriate packages. On average, a package for an expatriate middle manager there is worth $375,000, ECA said.

Expatriate packages in Singapore are lower than in Hong Kong. However, with the cost of the package having dropped slightly in H.K., while increasing in Singapore, the gap between the two continues has narrowed.

Taiwan is among the lowest in the region, with an average total expatriate pay package for middle managers of about $234,000 per year.

“Expatriate packages are lower in Taiwan than in some of the region’s other, more developed economies, thanks largely to accommodation and international schooling being cheaper,” Quane said. “The cost to companies of providing the benefits element of the package is almost half as high in Taiwan as in Hong Kong, for example”.

Malaysia has the second lowest expatriate packages in the list – one spot below Thailand.

The U.K. has the highest expatriate packages among the world’s top financial hub countries, with a typical total expatriate pay package around $430,000 per year.

Mark Harriso, manager at ECA, said that depending on how the package is put together, the cost of providing benefits can be considerable even dwarfing the cash salary element.

“This is the case for the U.K. as well as Hong Kong and Singapore. However, while the tax component of the package is small in Hong Kong and Singapore, it has a huge impact on overall costs when relocating someone to the U.K.,” he said.

More than 320 companies took part in the global survey, covering more than over 10,000 international assignees across 167 countries, the group said. (Source -

Related post -

What was CEO of The World Most Valuable Company Doing in China?

What was Tim Cook doing in China this week?

After China overtook the U.S. in iPhone sales, Apple’s CEO took a victory tour.

  • by 
  • Philip Elmer-DeWitt     May 16, 2015

  • Tim Cook had serious business this week in China. He bought a million acres of Chinese forest. He met with Vice Premier Liu Yandong. He had high-level discussions about scientific and educational cooperation, whatever that means.

    He also had some fun, judging from the Weibo account he opened on Monday and which by Saturday had drawn nearly 600,000 followers. 
    Link - Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., opened an account on Weibo , China's twitter-like social platform.

    Weibo is China’s leading social network — a homegrown combination of Twitter and Facebook — and Cook used his new account to document public appearances at several schools and Apple Stores. It was a kind of victory tour, after a quarter in which iPhone sales in China finally overtook the U.S.

    His Weibo posts:

    • Hello China! Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs.
    • Thanks to the students and teachers at the Elementary School at Communication University of China for a fascinating visit today.
    • It’s great to see innovation making a difference in the classroom, and we’re proud that iPad is a part of it.
    • We had a great time at the Apple Store Xidan Joy City thanks to all the customers and employees there!
    • Eddy, Lisa and I joined an Apple Watch workshop at the Apple Store West Lake in Hangzhou. Breathtaking store in a beautiful city!
    • What an honor to meet Mrs. Ma, a Shanghai teacher for 32 years and regular at our store on Nanjing East Road.
    • Thanks to all our customers and staff for a great week in China. Zaijian!
    Source -

    Related story - Tim Cook posted these pictures of his most recent trip to China

    Wednesday, 20 May 2015

    Education in Asia: Gap Between Richer and Poorer Nations Widens

    By Arno Maierbrugger

    Gulf Times Correspondent

    The latest education ranking by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published last week shows surprisingly diverse skills levels of young pupils among East Asian nations. In the list, seen as the “biggest ever global school ranking” encompassing 76 countries globally, the analysis is based on test scores in mathematics and science and reflects a much wider global map of education standards than the OECD’s Pisa tests that focus mainly on industrialised countries.

    Not surprisingly, some of the most affluent and developed East Asian countries (or in case of Hong Kong: regions) made it into the top five of the list, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Pisa test leader Finland has been pushed back to rank 6.

    However, the list entails an embarrassing outcome for some member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean: While just Vietnam made it nicely up on rank 12 of the league table, Thailand scored only 47th, albeit a bit better than Malaysia and Indonesia, which came 52nd and 69th.

    Lagging behind Indonesia were only seven countries – Botswana, Peru, Oman, Morocco, Honduras, South Africa, and Ghana coming in last. 

    While Thailand’s (public) education system is infamous for its low-level output of skilled and trained people although it has one of the highest shares of public budget allocation in the region which is obviously used quite inefficiently.

    A rather big surprise is Malaysia’s bad performance in the OECD ranking. The country, which is trying to position itself as an “international education hub” within Asean, ranked below Kazakhstan, Armenia and Iran in the list, with experts blaming the outcome on Malaysia’s “poor education infrastructure” and problems with selection and training of teachers, monitoring and measuring of their performance and the low remuneration of teachers and school management. The relaxing of entry requirements at training colleges were also seen as a reason for deteriorating teaching quality.

    In Thailand, where a whopping 20% of the national budget is allocated to the education sector, the quality does not keep pace. According to latest research conducted by Chaiyuth Punyasavatsut, chief of Thailand’s national education accounts project, around 80% of the $24bn budget are spent on “subsidies and administrative expenses”, and 71% just on basic education, while only 5% are reserved for improvement measures in the sector.

    “Thailand has enough resources for education, but it has failed to achieve the desired quality and effectiveness,” Punyasavatsut concluded, adding that “financial resources for education should be restructured in order to ensure more funding in needy areas that directly boost quality. Teachers’ salaries should also be linked to students’ achievements.”

    Problems in the Indonesian education system are seen in outdated curriculums that do not prepare students to succeed in the economic environment and fail to meet industries’ needs. Indonesian universities have also been criticised for failing to produce enough skilled engineers and scientists to support the 16th largest economy in the world.

    The OECD said it wants to give especially countries that rank lower on the list a stimulus to improve their situation.

    “The idea is to give more countries access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” said OECD education director Andreas Schleicher.

    China's Tertiary Education Growing by Leaps and Bounds

    From nowhere in 2001, China is now home to more than 375,000 international students to study in China in various universities across China. The total number of international students in China is expected to reach 500,000 mark by 2020. 

    China is no stranger to international students and foreign students study in China no longer confined just to language and culture subjects when compared 2 decades ago. 

    International students now choose medicine, engineering and business degree as the main core study subject when enroll with Chinese universities. Coupled with the introduction of English-medium degrees courses offered by selective universities in China, the growth of the foreign students from non-traditional countries like Europe and Africa are growing rapidly each year. In 2014, 377,054 foreign students came from 203 countries and regions to study in China, according to figures released by the ministry on 19th March 2015.

    Some students said they came to study in China because they were attracted by the country's political and economic development. Others view study in China as the window of the world due to China's influences in international arena. Some said China offers the best of both worlds where education quality is comparable with many western countries with affordable tuition fees.  

    Read the full story below and see how China's great academic leap forward!

                                                        2001                                                                    2011
    Top host countries for international students worldwide, 2001 (over 2 million students) vs 2011 (over 4 million students)

    China's Great Academic Leap Forward


    China is either at or near the so-called Lewis turning point, where it is no longer hugely productive to shift workers from agriculture to manufacturing. Now, growth will need to come increasingly from so-called total factor productivity, which itself is driven by technology and innovation, as Cai Fang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues.

    China has been busy preparing for the change. During the past two decades, Chinese involvement in international science and engineering has drastically increased, new research from economists Richard Freeman and Wei Huang of Harvard University shows. In 1970, after the Cultural Revolution, the country had fewer than 50,000 undergraduate students and almost no graduate students, but this changed quickly in the 1990s and 2000s.

    From 1970 to 2010, the number of students enrolled in higher education globally rose by 500 percent, to 178 million from 29 million. Nowhere was this growth faster than in China. While in the U.S. the number increased 140 percent, in China, it rose almost 30,000 percent, and the country more than doubled its number of colleges. Of global total enrollment, China’s share expanded from nothing to 17 percent. For comparison, India’s share rose from 9 percent to 12 percent during the same period.

    It’s true that the quality of that education is still not top-notch. No Chinese universities are ranked within the top 100 institutions globally, according to the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. The government is investing heavily in improving quality, however, and there are now six Chinese universities in the top 200, up from none in 2003.

    Furthermore, the Chinese have invested in research links globally, and especially with the U.S. In 1993, China endorsed education abroad; more than a decade later, it began to subsidize large numbers of outbound students. As recently as 2005, roughly 60,000 mainland Chinese came to the U.S. for higher ed; by 2012, there were almost 240,000. Mainland Chinese represent more than a quarter of international students in the U.S.

    These relationships also extend to research. China has become the top international collaborator for U.S. researchers. And by 2012, almost half of Chinese collaborations abroad were with Americans, Freeman and Huang have found.

    They conclude that China’s new links to global research, and in particular its key relationship with the U.S., have “allowed China to reach the scientific and technological frontier much faster than if it had done a more parochial path.” And that in turn is crucial to continued strong growth in China. (I’ll be spending the next few days there, as the Lewis turning point comes and goes.) Despite the rising tension between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea islands, academic research provides one dimension along which the two countries remain deeply co-dependent. (Source -

    Tuesday, 19 May 2015

    Singapore Has Done It Again and Again!

    The biggest ever global school rankings have been published, with Asian countries in the top five places and African countries at the bottom.

    Singapore has done it again, topping the biggest global school rankings published by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

    The rankings are based on an amalgamation of international assessments, including the OECD's Pisa tests, the TIMSS tests run by US-based academics and TERCE tests in Latin America, putting developed and developing countries on a single scale. The analysis, based on test scores in maths and science in 76 countries, is a much wider map of education standards than the OECD's Pisa tests, which focus on more affluent industrialised countries. The latest Pisa test in 2012 polled 65 countries and regions.

    The top five places are all taken by Asian countries - Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan while Ghana at the bottom.

    The top performer, Singapore, had high levels of illiteracy into the 1960s, continuously showing tremendous progress and outpaced many developed nations such as U.S., UK and Australia which regarded as highly ranked nations in education by international communities.

    Learn more about the Top 20 Ranking of the biggest global education rankings published by OECD on 13 May 2015.

    At tertiary education level, universities in Singapore also scored and fared highly in many of the world reputable university rankings. National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have ranked among the global top 10 for multiple subjects, according to the 2015 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject released on 29 April 2015.

    The annual subject rankings are based on surveyed opinions of 85,062 academics and 41,910 employers, alongside analysis of 17.3 million research papers and over 100 million citations.

    NUS placed among the world’s 10 best universities for 11 subjects across disciplines such as:

    • Engineering - Civil & Structural (3rd in the world)
    • Engineering - Chemical (5)
    • Engineering - Electrical & Electronic (6)
    • Materials Science (6)
    • Architecture / Built Environment (6)
    • Chemistry (7)
    • Biological Sciences (8)
    • Engineering - Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing (8)
    • Linguistics (8)
    • Geography (9)
    • Environmental Sciences (10)
    NUS also made the top 50 worldwide for a total of 30 subjects. It is also the best-performing Asian university, topping the list of universities outside the UK and US with the most number of subjects placed in the top 10 ranking.

    Meanwhile, NTU has a record 18 subject ranked among the world’s top 50, which is more than twice the number of subjects in the top 50 in 2011. NTU ranked in the global top 10 for three subject fields such as:
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering (7th in the world and 2nd in the Asia)
    • Materials Science (8th in the world and 2nd in Asia) and 
    • Education (ranked 10th in the world and 1st in Singapore). 
    NTU’s Education programme, entered the global top 10 in the QS subject rankings for the first time this year. Other NTU’s Subjects’ like Mechanical, Civil, Computer Science, Chemical, Communication & Media, Accounting, Business, Statistics, Linguistics, Art & Design, Chemistry, Environmental, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology are among the subjects ranked in the top 50 in the world.

    While universities in Singapore are world class standard, the Ministry of Education does not have a list of accredited overseas universities. There is also no central authority in Singapore that assesses or grants recognition for degrees obtained from overseas universities. The reason is that the employer should be the one deciding whether a degree-holder has the qualities desired for the job and the qualification most relevant to his needs. The employer is in the best position to decide how much value he will assign to a person’s qualification.

    Knowing the fact that Singapore is a high standard education hub with many strict rules in term of quality assurance and stringent requirements, it is also certain that the government of Singapore will never tolerate and compromise the quality of graduates in professional degrees like medicine and engineering. These strict rules are applied to both graduates from Singapore's universities as well as graduates from overseas universities so life threatening risk is minimize and the public is in the safe-hands.

    In Singapore, professional degrees such as those in engineering, medicine, law, and accountancy should be those recognised by the respective professional bodies. For example, a person with an engineering degree from an overseas university who intends to seek registration as a professional engineer in Singapore will have to check whether the institution that awards the qualification is recognised by the Professional Engineers Board. For medical degree from overseas university, it will be vetted through Singapore Medical Council (SMC) before allowed to practice medicine in Singapore.

    The government of Singapore is set to continue its efforts to maintain high quality and ensure high competence level of its skilled professionals. The professional bodies like Singapore Medical Council and The Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) are delegated to monitor and ensure all its working professionals are diligently evaluated, checked and accredited before putting them into the practise of respective fields so its good name as high quality education hub that produce highly qualified and competent professionals in medicine and engineering will not be tinted and jeopardised.

    A tiny nation with no natural resources but with high GDP per capita of USD36,897 (in 2013) and achieved high standard level of quality and professionalism in many areas is indeed a role model country for the rest of the world to follow!

    Singapore also known to be a country that provide many opportunities to high achievers to work in Singapore. Highly talented international graduates from overseas universities are welcome to make contribution and help make Singapore as a dominance country in many areas for many years to come.

    Below are the universities in China fully accredited by these two professional bodies in the fields of medicine and engineering. With the accreditation and recognition of these Chinese universities, it signify the high quality standard of the undergraduate courses in China.

    1. Accredited Medical Universities in China by SMC

    Learn more about Medicals Schools Recognised by SMC & Conditional Registration of International Medical Graduates

    2. Accredited engineering degrees from China Universities by IES

        List of Qualifications for Admission as Member Grade

    Learn more about list of Qualifications for Admission as M
    ember Grade by IES

    Friday, 15 May 2015

    Explore China - After Cherry Blossoms, Now Tulips in Full Blossom in China

    Stop and Smell Tulips 

    Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Depending on the species, tulip plants can be between 4 inches (10 cm) and 28 inches (71 cm) high.

    The tulip's large flowers usually bloom on scapes with leaves in a rosette at ground level and a single flowering stalk arising from amongst the leaves.

    Tulip stems have few leaves. Larger species tend to have multiple leaves. Plants typically have two to six leaves, some species up to 12.

    Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colors, except pure blue. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes.

    In Changchun Park, Jilin

    Tulips are in full bloom at the Changchun Park in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, 13 May 2015.

    In Yinggeshi Botanical Park, Dalian

    Tulip flowers are in full bloom at the Yinggeshi Botanical Park in Dalian, a port city of Northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, April 22, 2015. 

    More than three million tulip flowers in over 100 varieties brought in from the Netherlands bloom in this park as the temperature rises in recent days.

    Tulips were imported to Holland from the Ottoman Empire sometime in the late sixteenth century and soon adopted by the Dutch as their national flower.