To avoid university entrance exam, a growing number of Chinese students study abroad

In an effort to avoid the gaokao—the traditional Chinese University entrance exam—a growing number of Chinese students decide to study overseas, nearly half of them in the U.S., China Daily reports.

In 2013, for example, only 72,736 Chinese students signed up for the gaokao, marking a significant drop from the 126,000 students who signed up in 2006. This, in conjunction with numbers from the Chinese Ministry of Education showing that study abroad is on the rise—399,600 students studied abroad in 2012, 17.65 per cent more than in 2011—seems to indicate a trend towards studying abroad instead of taking the gaokao.

The article offers two possible explanations for this new trend:

  1. It may be the result of increased wealth. Nearly 95 per cent of students who go abroad are self-sponsored and families who have the necessary economic resources can now consider education abroad as a viable option;
  2. Many Chinese students wish to simply enjoy high school without the stress of having to prepare for the gaokao exam.

Citing the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2012 Open Doors report, China Daily notes that many of the students who forgo the exam are attending university in the United States, accounting for nearly half of the Chinese study abroad student body:

“The number of Chinese students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education in 2011-12 increased from 157,558 to 194,029, or 23 per cent, over the previous year.”

However, the U.S. is not the only popular destination country for Chinese students, China Daily writes, adding that universities in Australia, for example, have also seen an increase in students from China.