MORE CHI­NESE STU­DENTS SUM­MER AT UK SCHOOLS

Such stud­ies help pre­pare chil­dren for higher ed­u­ca­tion abroad

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG MINGJIE in Lon­don wang­mingjie@ mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

When Chi­nese par­ents first sent their chil­dren to the UK for sum­mer camps and cour­ses, the kids stayed with host fam­i­lies and at­tended stan­dard lan­guage schools. Now, some of the UK’s most cel­e­brated pri­vate schools are com­pet­ing to at­tract Chi­nese chil­dren to their sum­mer pro­grams.

As the num­ber and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Chi­nese cus­tomers has in­creased, so have their re­quire­ments. Most par­ents are look­ing for qual­ity cour­ses at a well-known school with on-site ac­com­mo­da­tions. Par­ents also are will­ing to send their chil­dren abroad at a younger age.

English lan­guage skills in China have im­proved in schools, lead­ing to more Chi­nese par­ents con­sid­er­ing en­rolling their chil­dren in spe­cial­ized sum­mer cour­ses or spe­cific skill-de­vel­op­ment classes.

“Many young peo­ple in China want to en­sure that their aca­demic per­for­mances are sup­ported by train­ing in the per­sonal qual­i­ties that will make them ex­cel in the multi­na­tional work­place of the

fu­ture,” said Alexan­der Nikitich, founder of Car­fax Ed­u­ca­tion Group.

As a re­sult, the group re­ceives more re­quests from stu­dents who want to use the sum­mer to de­velop their skills in ar­eas such as in­ter­view train­ing, pre­sen­ta­tion mak­ing, English lan­guage for math and sciences and ca­reer plan­ning.

Tal­ent de­vel­op­ment at sum­mer camp is in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar among Chi­nese stu­dents. “We had a stu­dent who has been the na­tional math com­pe­ti­tion prize win­ner, and a stu­dent with a de­sire and abil­ity to sing opera,” said Nikitich, who has worked in the in­dus­try for over 20 years.

The de­mand from Chi­nese fam­i­lies has grown so much in re­cent years that Car­fax opened a ded­i­cated Chi­nese desk three years ago op­er­ated by UK-based Chi­nese-speak­ing ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tants.

Nikitich said Chi­nese par­tic­i­pants in his school pro­gram come from very rich fam­i­lies, the ma­jor­ity of whom are from Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Shen­zhen, but this year clients also come from other parts of China, such as Chengdu, Wuhan and Xi­a­men.

The re­cent trend also in­di­cates that stu­dents who take part in over­seas sum­mer camps are get­ting younger as their par­ents are ea­ger to equip them for fur­ther stud­ies and po­ten­tial em­i­gra­tion in the fu­ture.

Many Chi­nese fam­i­lies are con­sid­er­ing UK schools or uni­ver­si­ties as an op­tion for their child’s ed­u­ca­tion and the sum­mer pro­grams of­fer them an in­tro­duc­tion to the coun­try, its peo­ple and cul­ture — and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Pun­dits said it is in some ways a try-be­fore-you-buy ex­pe­ri­ence, al­though sum­mer cour­ses and sum­mer schools are not the same as reg­u­lar school.

“Chi­nese par­ents, in par­tic­u­lar, are very de­tail fo­cused and re­quire max­i­mum in­for­ma­tion about the pro­gram be­fore they make a de­ci­sion. Price is not nec­es­sar­ily the key de­cid­ing fac­tor, but lo­ca­tion, safety, na­tion­al­ity mix and the re­spon­sive­ness of our staff to an­swer queries are of vi­tal im­por­tance,” said Greg Pat­ton, di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing at Bell English, which has been run­ning young learner camps since 1986.

Wil­liam Van­ber­gen, the founder of Shang­hai-based BE Ed­u­ca­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps Chi­nese stu­dents gain en­try to elite UK schools, said most par­ents ul­ti­mately have in mind some type of study abroad for their chil­dren.

“Sum­mer cour­ses help pre­pare for study abroad by pro­vid­ing a ‘Bri­tish school life’ ex­pe­ri­ence, boost­ing English lev­els dra­mat­i­cally, and al­low­ing stu­dents to be­come more cul­tur­ally aware,” said Van­ber­gen, who found that many stu­dents re­turn from sum­mer cour­ses with a stronger mo­ti­va­tion to study English and a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for over­seas teach­ing meth­ods.

For many stu­dents, Van­ber­gen said, a res­i­den­tial sum­mer course is the first time stu­dents re­ally are al­lowed to ex­er­cise their in­de­pen­dence and are asked to be self-re­liant, which are two es­sen­tial skills to suc­cess­fully study abroad.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­de­pen­dent School Coun­cil, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing more than 1,200 schools, the num­ber of Chi­nese stu­dents this year who have par­ents liv­ing over­seas in­creased by nearly 115 per­cent com­pared with five years ago, when there were 3,708.

China re­mains the top source of over­seas pupils in the UK with 7,990 Chi­nese stu­dents in Bri­tish schools. Of those, 1,328 Chi­nese stu­dents have par­ents liv­ing in Bri­tain while they study, ac­cord­ing to the 2017 ISC cen­sus re­port.

The UK Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics Agency re­ports that in 2015-16, the num­ber of stu­dents from China far ex­ceeded any other na­tion­al­ity, at 91,215, mak­ing up 32 per­cent of the non-EU stu­dents in the UK.

Sum­mer cour­ses of­fered at Bri­tish board­ing schools are par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing to Chi­nese par­ents due to its rich his­tory and high pro­file, said Van­ber­gen, who has been work­ing with top Bri­tish schools on sum­mer camps for over a decade.

The Eton Col­lege sum­mer course was orig­i­nally de­signed for only 40 boys ages 13 to17 years old and has been ex­panded to 160 places for boys and girls. BE Ed­u­ca­tion has since de­signed a course at Char­ter­house for young learn­ers (ages 8 to 12) who are keen to ex­pe­ri­ence board­ing life and learn­ing at a top school.

Van­ber­gen said that the com­pany now sends over 300 Chi­nese stu­dents on sum­mer and win­ter camps each year around the globe. The av­er­age price for the UK cour­ses, is about 64,000 yuan ($9,520) for three weeks and 59,800 for 2 weeks, higher than a reg­u­lar study tour, he said.

Xiao Juan, who sent her son, Peng Yuan­tian, to the Char­ter­house sum­mer pro­gram, said the ex­pe­ri­ence helped him learn how to man­age him­self, his stud­ies and his daily life.

“Through the ex­pe­ri­ence, my son was aware that not ev­ery­one would like or tol­er­ate him and there might be some peo­ple he dis­liked. He learned to be more po­lite and pa­tient with oth­ers,” Xiao said.

“I picked up the feel­ing of English learn­ing and felt the English writ­ing was not so dif­fi­cult as I imag­ined,” Peng, 12, said.

TAN XI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese stu­dents visit King’s Col­lege Lon­don last month. The top-tier col­lege has stu­dents from 150 coun­tries.

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