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An article recently published in The Atlantic entitled “American Universities Are Addicted to Chinese Students” reports that an estimated 8,000 students from China were expelled from U.S. colleges in the 2013-14 academic year.

 

Academic Cheating Hurts a School’s Integrity

That’s bad news for the affected U.S. municipalities. Assuming each Chinese student spends only $30,000 per year in America for his or her tuition and living expenses, that amounts to a 240 million dollars loss of revenue each year. But from my perspective, it’s nice to see that some U.S. schools are finally taking action on a problem that has been ignored for years.

As a Taiwanese studying in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, most of my Chinese classmates and friends were from poor or not so well-to-do families. But they were the best of the best. Tuition was unaffordable, and most were awarded scholarships and stipends that made pursuing their studies possible. They were all hardworking individuals with excellent academic abilities.

Some of them did what I did as an international graduate student in the U.S. We worked 40 hours a week or more to support ourselves while carrying a full course load. Few (if any of us) asked our parents for a dime. We washed dishes in the school cafeterias, worked in Chinese restaurants, babysat, tutored, and did whatever we could to get by in pursuit of our dreams. We carried ourselves with honor and integrity. We did all this while fulfilling our research responsibilities for our professors.

I am not suggesting there are no Chinese students currently studying in the U.S. under similar circumstances. But the recent influx of wealthy Chinese students has cast a shadow over the accomplishments of their predecessors.

Loving adults know how difficult it is to not indulge a child. But China’s One-Child policy combined with its new-found wealth has made this task even more daunting. By China’s own admission, the government recognizes the seriousness of this generation’s ineptitude, commonly referring to them in the media as “little emperors”.

Money Talks Louder than Anything?

According to the Atlantic’s report, 60% of Chinese students pay full tuition at America’s colleges and universities, and most of them are from wealthy families. The report goes on to state that  “some U.S. schools—such as Purdue University in Indiana—profit further by charging additional fees for international students.” Chinese students are now a major source of income for many U.S. colleges, universities, as well as the locally owned businesses that now cater to this demographic. With the exception of niche “Chinatowns”, this was unheard of when I was a graduate student in the 1980’s.

 

Academic Cheating Should not be Tolerated

The American higher education system has the distinction of being ranked number one in the world by U21 since 2012. But if U.S. schools expect to maintain this prestigious ranking, they will have to start cleaning house. Recruiting at all costs, like cheating, is unacceptable. The question is how many U.S. schools are as genuinely committed to detecting fraud (E.g. fake transcripts) as they are to receiving tuition payments? Let’s not forget that the United States is just one part of the international education community. There are plenty of other territories including Australia and the UK that are working hard to overtake our coveted position.

(Author: Tanya Gray, co-founder of Access Education, LLC. Editor: T. Gray)