http://www.sina.com.cn   2012年03月22日 11:12   国际在线

  A recent audit at Dickinson State University in the United States will have made uncomfortable reading for parents in China。


  Over the last four years, the college in North Dakota had issued diplomas to 400 foreign students despite their failure to complete the required coursework。


  Roughly 95 percent of these students were Chinese。


  It was just one of several controls "waived or intentionally overridden or ignored" by DSU, which has again cast a spotlight on the risks families face in paying out huge sums to have their children educated overseas。


  Such investments often create what sociologists call “the new urban poor”。


  "Parents are surrendering their last resources to wager them on a child`s future by sending them abroad," said Lao Kaisheng, an education policy researcher at Capital Normal University. "If these children don`t get the decent jobs and the salary that is expected, their parents will naturally be sucked into poverty."


  The desire to send offspring to schools overseas has existed for decades, although today it is largely fueled by the belief that it gives youngsters an advantage in the tough domestic employment market。


  However, not many Chinese families have enough saved in the bank to cover the tuition fees and accommodation and living expenses. Instead, many are choosing to take on massive debt at a critical time in their own life。


  It is a gamble, experts say, and the stakes are high。


  "People need to think over the input and potential output, as well as the risks that any investment brings," said Zhang Jianbai, who runs a private school in Yunnan province。


  He said that parents in small cities across his southwestern province, many of whom earn just 2,000 yuan a month, often sell their apartments to fund their children`s study overseas。


  "Those who are now suffering trouble or financial difficulties would not have been in this position had they chosen a more suitable way to educate their children," he added。


  Differences in quality


  After graduating from the university in Guangdong, Wang Jianhai was sent to Texas to get a master`s degree, which his family believed would give him an edge in the job market。


  His father worked at an electronics factory and earned more than 10,000 yuan a month, so the adventure was not a great financial burden. However, after his return, 26-year-old Wang was no better prepared to find work。


  Even his English skills had not improved, he said, as "we stayed with other Asians most of the time"。


  Eventually, his parents had to invest more money to help their only son eke out a meager living by running his own electronics store。


  "He hasn`t earned a penny back for us, even though we`ve taken care of him for 26 years, while other people his age might have earned more than 200,000 yuan by now," said his 66-year-old father。


  "We could have had a decent life after retirement with our savings, but now we`ve painted ourselves into a tight corner," he added bitterly。


  Although parents see an overseas education as a shortcut to success, experts argue that very few truly understand the vast differences in quality that exist among colleges in developed nations。


  Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociology professor at Renmin University of China, said everybody knows Chinese parents are willing to spend money on their children, but he warned that those looking to benefit today are largely "second- and third-rate colleges that don`t offer scholarships or subsidies"。


  Parents need to be reasonable, he said, as well as "clear about what they expect from the study period mental development or practical skills"。




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