For study abroad, more Japanese prefer Chinese university over US one
Growing numbers or Japanese who study abroad see their future linked to a Chinese university. But US educators are fighting back, citing better schools and the ability to learn all-important English.
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Lower costs – and standards
Lower costs, however, are matched by lower standards: Even the best universities in China do not match their US peers in world college rankings. Nor are students at Chinese universities exposed to the same range of intellectual opinions or the same depth of debate familiar on campuses in the West, or in Japan itself.Skip to next paragraph
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"If you go to China to study, you are not looking for liberal arts courses nor for world-class research," says Dr. Satterwhite. The growing number of Japanese students with a Chinese university education, he fears, "will have implications for Japanese society; Japan will be less adaptable and less competitive in the world economy."
US recruiters are not giving up. Aware that Japanese parents prefer sending their children to places with which they are familiar, US institutions are keen to give Japanese teens even a brief experience, be it a week-long school trip to Hawaii or a short exchange program. "You have to get them at a young age," says Mr. O'Rourke.
The Chinese are wise to this strategy, though. For the first time this year, Youth for Understanding, an international group that sponsors high school exchanges, will be sending Japanese pupils to China for year-long visits.
Fewer Japanese high-schoolers are going to America, though. In 1992, Youth for Understanding sent nearly 3,000 to study in America. By 2008, that number had fallen to 1,150.
Meanwhile, the number of secondary schools offering Mandarin classes, besides compulsory English, has ballooned from 154 in 1993 to 831 last year, according to the Ministry of Education. "Our impression is that the number of secondary school students from schools offering Chinese who go to university in China is on the rise," says Kazuko Tsuchiya, an official with JASSO.
Still, speaking good Mandarin is not a panacea. Yuji Fujikawa, finishing up an economics degree at Waseda University in Tokyo, spent a year in Beijing but says that "speaking Chinese is not proving to be as much an advantage as I had hoped."
She has found a job with a securities firm in Tokyo, but she will need to improve her English. "The human resources people told me that my Chinese is a good thing," Ms. Fujikawa explains. "But they say I need to master English, too."
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