Exchange students getting younger
Chinese primary school children have been touted as the next big thing in the lucrative education market.
Education Nelson-Marlborough says a new demand has developed where parents in the Asian nation are increasingly wanting to send young children to study abroad.
One of the main reasons for the interest in primary school was because of the ever improving tertiary education sector in China.
Education Nelson-Marlborough project manager Zoe Gray said it could be a common trend for the future.
‘‘China is sending their students abroad younger and younger, so there is a big demand for primary school education and secondary school education from China.
‘‘Their universities are now some of the world’s leading universities and that market is slowing down so that’s why they are becoming younger when they send them abroad,’’ Gray said.
Chinese education agents had been requesting spots for primary school children from their Kiwi counterparts, Gray said. But the children would only be allowed to come if they had at least one of their parents with them.
‘‘They come with their parents, normally one parent but sometimes two, but obviously, financially speaking they are high value students.’’
‘‘The parents who engage in the local community are very wealthy families who would not necessarily work here, but enjoy the lifestyle here,’’ Gray said.
Unlike traditional exchange programmes, the families would often rent out a place on their own instead of staying with a host family.
The majority of school exchange students in Marlborough were at high school and for them the experience had been lifechanging.
Sixteen-year-old Jack Yang came to Marlborough in February last year from Ningxia in China.
Coming from an urban area of 5 million people, Marlborough’s sparsity stood out for Yang.
‘‘Everything was different, the language, the nature and I spent a few months adapting. I’m better now at talking to others and doing things with them.
‘‘But in saying that it wasn’t difficult [to adapt], I think Marlborough is really relaxed and there is not much pressure here,’’ Yang said.
He dreamt of going to university in Wellington to learn to create special effects for movies.
‘‘In China there are a lot of people and only 20 per cent can go to university so to be the top 20 per cent in China is really hard, so you work really hard and only have five to six hours of sleep every day,’’ Yang said.
Education Nelson-Marlborough project manager Zoe Gray with exchange student Jack Yang.