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British summer schools help students integrate

Luo Wangshu
Updated: Dec 1,2014 4:28 PM     China Daily

A University of Bradford representative introduces her school to Chinese students at the 19th China International Education Exhibition Tour in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in March. More than 400 universities and higher education institutions from 20 countries took part in the expo.[Photo/China Daily]

British summer schools have become the prep program for many Chinese students looking to study overseas.

A total of 38,000 Chinese students participated in summer camp programs in the United Kingdom in 2013, an increase of 50 percent year-on-year, figures from the Cultural and Education Section of the British Consulate-General showed.

“With Chinese families becoming more wealthy, the cost of overseas summer programs is no longer the top concern. Instead, more students are willing to taste the informal British education during summer to better understand the British school system and educational atmosphere,” said He Chugang, general manager of Amber Education’s Southern China region, a Hong Kong-based education counseling firm.

He said the summer programs give students a better understanding of whether they would fit into a British education and enabled those targeting a British higher education to have the advantage of integrating into local schools in advance.

“Summer programs are flexible, ranging from two to 8 weeks, with the majority of participants being high school and college students,” he said, adding that summer programs also enhance students’ English proficiency, which pleases students and their parents.

Data from the Ministry of Education showed that 413,900 Chinese went to study abroad in 2013, a year-on-year increase of 3.58 percent. Of those, 135,000 studied in the UK, with more than 100,000 taking higher education courses, according to data from the British Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Figures from the British consulate show that 62,000 Tier 4 student visas-an increase of 9 percent-and more than 10,000 student visitor visas-an increase of 19 percent-were issued in 2013, compared with 2012.

Yang Dongdong spent six weeks in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2012, sitting in classrooms at Oxford and Cambridge, visiting museums and walking around the two cities.

“I participated in overseas summer programs in both the UK and US because I could not decide where to pursue my higher education,” the 18-year-old said.

“My parents prefer American schools but I did not have a strong preference at first. But after actually sitting in a class, I felt like I enjoyed the British style more. I don’t know why. Maybe the chemistry works,” Yang said, adding that he is applying to Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Yang wants to study architecture. “Walking around the cities in the UK, I felt like I was in heaven. The diversity and history of the buildings are fantastic,” he said.

Chinese students favor British schools, while British schools also like Chinese applicants.

The British Higher Education Statistics Agency released statistics showing 20 British universities admitting Chinese students in 2013.