American and Chinese Educational System


China is a state situated in the Asian continent with a population of over one billion people. It is the most populated country in the world according to 2015 statistics. The demand for higher education in China made its scholars go to foreign countries to improve their knowledge and qualification. This research seeks to find out why many Chinese students opt to further their studies abroad in recent years. Statistics has shown that students from China prefer to study abroad. The number of these students has been increasing at a steady rate over the years since the beginning of the trend.

The Number of Chinese Students Studying Abroad

Statistics reports from  Ministry of Education of China indicate that the number of Chinese students studying abroad rose from 339,700 in 2010 and 2011 to 459,800 in 2014 and 2015. This sharp increment in the number of Chinese students studying abroad indicates the ever-growing interest in overseas studies. This represents a 17.7% increase in the enrollment rate in foreign universities. Chinese students travel abroad to study to obtain Master’s degree and Ph.D. They prefer this option over staying at home to work or start own businesses. America appears to be the major beneficiary of these foreign enrollments, which has been known as brain drain. Some researchers state that America has embarked on taking the best minds from across the world with an aim to benefit from their ideas that lead to innovations.

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Innovation remains the most crucial aspect of contemporary life, and the entire world relies on it. A survey of parents’ opinions carried out in China indicated that most of them are still willing to send their children to study abroad despite the high cost involved in such an arrangement. They also remained firm that despite the misery that some of the Chinese students encounter while in foreign countries in search of higher education they cannot be deterred from sending them there). This strong will to send students abroad arises from the notion that foreign universities offer education of better quality as compared to the local universities in China. The prestige that is interconnected with sending children to schools abroad also contributes to enthusiasm observed in parents interviewed. A parent’s ability to send a child abroad for further studies speaks of the economic stability of the family involved as well as the intellectual ability of the child in question.

The trend seems to maintain the rising trajectory, especially with the increase of the middle class in China. The middle class have achieved a level where it can afford to save some extra income to sponsor the study of students abroad. Economic growth in China influenced the middle-class welfare, which significantly improved due to massive investments and trade. This class makes the largest population of the country, and the rise of its economic status implies that the Chinese have come to a point whereby they can be self-sustaining. The middle class has been following the trend established by the upper class of sending their children abroad.

Enrolment Countries

Most Chinese students prefer to study in America as their first country of choice. According to information obtained from Open Doors data, Chinese students accounted for 31 percent of the total enrollment in American educational establishments. This is a significant growth compared to the previous 11 percent in 2000. Canada has also established itself as the second best destination for Chinese students seeking further education. The country plays host to 32 percent of Chinese students, particularly Chinese high school students seeking studies in foreign countries. Britain closely follows Canada as the third ideal destination for Chinese students.

The three mentioned countries above have various similarities that may help one establish the reason for the massive influx of Chinese students to foreign countries. Both countries have highly developed economies as well as well-established universities that offer high-quality education. The parents, who send their children to Canada for high school education, intend to give them a strong academic foundation. The academic formulation would open up opportunities for them in future when they return to their home countries.

Students with foreign academic qualifications stand a good chance of employment than the ones with local qualifications. This advantage is what motivates parents to send their children abroad for further studies. The Chinese job market is considered one of the most competitive in the world. For the market to remain relevant, one ought to have the best certificates. Thus, foreign qualification gives many advantages to win the competition. China has the biggest market; the country has failed to create enough jobs to accommodate its vast population and create an influx of trained graduates in the market.

This also explains why many countries import human resources from China. An oversupply of labor has saturated the job market. It is the reason why Chinese human resources are ranked the cheapest in the entire world. These trained and unemployed young minds find their way into business and other activities, trying to generate income. The countries of choice for Chinese students also appear to be  homes to the world’s most famous leaders. For instance, Chinese students prefer prominent universities found in the United States, such as Harvard, which is Alma Mater of many American presidents. These institutions instill progressive ideas and values in young people. Such attributes enable to transform the places they came from irrespective of the resistance that some of them face in the process of these changes.

Differences between Chinese and American Education Systems

The discrepancies in cultural practices bring the difference to the education system in both countries. In America, both elementary and higher education last for a period of twelve years, which is very different from that in China. The Chinese education system has separated the elementary education in that students spend six years in primary school and then some three more years in middle school, which is equivalent to the junior school in America, and lastly spend three more years in high school.

In general, Chinese education involves rigid observance of strict guidelines whereas American education system offers some freedom. The freedom includes permission for students to select classes that they deem suitable to attend. Such a practice is unheard of in China. The large number of students in China makes it difficult to personalize studies and identify relevant subjects right away from college as practiced in America. The class size is another notable difference. In China, at the middle and high school levels, teachers ought to give two lessons within eight hours for about 55 to 65 students. In America, teachers give five to six lessons per day for about 25 to 35 students.

The Chinese extensively use the “cohort” concept in their education in that students starting school are grouped together in classes, remaining this way for the entire time that they will be at school. The group sticks together even up to college level, and an individual can only be allowed to move to a more advanced grouping after revealing high grades in their test scores. This is different from the American education system that does not group students. In the United States, students attend different classes. It is possible that individuals can learn in the same institution without meeting in any single class due to different areas of specialization of the students.

Chinese students tend to stay in the same class during all their main lessons. Moreover, the teachers are responsible for organization of students. This tactics is in sharp contrast to the American system where students change classrooms after every lesson as the classes belong to the teachers. Due to this, Chinese students do not have hallway lockers; instead, they have desktops under which they keep their learning materials as the teachers change one subject to another.

The Chinese education observes the looping system whereby one teacher continues to work with a particular group of students even as they advance from one level to another. Teachers move with their students through various academic levels. In America, the system is different in that teachers do not move with their students from one grade to the other, especially at the high school or middle school level. Teachers in America specialize in the curriculum of a given grade level and remain at that level for the rest of their careers. Students are passing through that particular grade level, moving to the next, but the teacher in charge of those grade level remains fixed at the same position.

The concept of the head teacher is another significant difference between the American and Chinese education. In China, the head teacher has additional responsibilities that include delivering instructions, class supervision and acquaintance with the students’ parents or family, keeping in touch with them on matters concerning their children. The head teacher also arrives at the school earlier to prepare for the students’ arrival. The teacher is also supposed to pay visits to the families of his/her students at least once per term during the weekends.

In America, the system is different in that the individual teacher takes the responsibility of making contact with the student’s family in case of misbehavior or poor performance. At the secondary school level, the guidance counselor takes full responsibility for making contact with the student’s parents. The guidance counselor is in charge of over 350 cases to handle, resorting to mass counseling sessions with the aim to cope with the workload.

Chinese education system also uses the merit pay as well as students’ test marks to evaluate the performance of the teacher. They compare the students’ entry score and exit score at the different levels of education since the same teacher progresses with the students from one level to the other. If a class presents high grades after completion of a given level, banzhuren will receive a bonus salary of around 3000 to 6000 Yuan in either one or two months’ pay. In America, the teachers’ unions fight for the rights of the teachers, including better pay.

Discipline in Chinese schools is very strict, which enables students to work with minimal supervision. Transfer from one lesson to another takes about half an hour, but the students observe high levels of discipline and exercise great self-control. In America, the discipline is rather democratic. Transition from one lesson to another takes around five minutes within which students are expected to run to their lockers and change their reading materials. During this interval, students often engage in misbehavior and teachers ought to control the hallways to ensure that students do not engage in acts of misconduct.

Chinese students observe high levels of respect that include reciting while standing, handing in papers using both hands. Students also use respective terminologies when referring to their teachers, such as “Our dear teacher”. The scenario differs from the American system where students are almost unruly. American students do not respect their teachers that much as is the case with Chinese students.

The Chinese culture plays an integral role when it involves matters of student discipline. The Chinese are taught to obey and respect all elders the same way they honor their parents. In America, the culture of respecting the elderly sounds foreign, as societal culture does not lay much emphasis on matters of respect. Students address their teachers in a casual manner that points to the fact that the American culture of discipline stands inferior to that of the Chinese.

Chinese students actively participate in  such activities as sweeping classroom, serving meals, performing duties of class monitors as well as helping teachers in other classroom activities. Monitors wear special uniforms with armbands, being responsible for leadership in activities, such as daily lunch distribution. The class monitors assist teachers in collecting assignment papers as well as distributing assignments and tasks. This is very different from the American education system that does not feature student leaders.

Students self-regulate and manage themselves without any form of organized leadership. Students take their assignments from online portals and receive them from their tutors directly by use of Internet. Technology has largely increased the physical gap between tutors and students in America. Reliance on online sources of communication has ensured that physical contact remains trivial.

Chinese students buy textbooks every year. A textbook costs around one dollar and workbook’s price is two dollars. There is much emphasis on moral lessons in textbooks. They often talk about certain prominent scientists and their achievements. They reveal scientists’ contributions to environmental conservation and life of humanity improvement, concentrating on their moral life and other virtues.

The examination system is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. The Chinese have used the examination process since the era of the Song Dynasty as the criteria for identifying their leaders. They also use examinations to determine which university a student is supposed to join. The national examinations are administered annually on June 7th and 8th. Students either pass liberal art examinations or science tests. This is different from the American system, which offers exams after every grade in order to advance to the next grade.

Lastly, the Chinese educational curriculum is standard and at the same time nationwide. This provides students with very few choices. The curriculum encompasses national exercises, national expectations, and national goals among others. It is different from the American education system that entrusts all the primary responsibility to the government. The education system also follows the provisions of each state that may significantly differ. Each state has own requirements that guide the policies in learning institutions.

Chinese Students who Remain Abroad after Studies

It is estimated that almost half the population that travels abroad to further their studies opt to stay in the foreign countries on a permanent basis. The actual figure stands at around 220,000, which is around 15 percent of the Chinese population. This large number of students who stayed abroad raised concerns about the effects of the educational trend in China. Some say the trend has negatively affected the human resources of the country because the best professionals disappear after completion of their studies, contributing to the development of foreign country at the expense of their motherland.

On the contrary, some argue that those students who remain in their countries of study help to develop the economy of their native lands through the foreign income they send back to their countries. However, the trend appears to be dangerous as it deprives the country of skilled labor, putting the development agenda at risk. It is also true that studying abroad increases employment chances of students in China.

Advantages Chinese Students Studying Abroad have on China Job Market

Employers in China value foreign qualifications higher than local qualifications. The employers think that foreign universities offer more competent education than their local universities. Thus, an individual with foreign qualifications is considered to have better professionalism, as well as socialization and team working skills. Effective socialization is influenced by the student’s exposure to foreign cultures. Chinese students studying abroad have to go through many adjustments in order to adapt to mentality of the foreign countries. Employers in China also prefer students with foreign qualifications due to the belief that they have innovative minds. American education system lays great emphasis on innovation. Hence, students spend most of their time trying to come up with forward-looking ideas. This is quite different from the Chinese system that emphasizes paper success, which in most cases undermines one practical capability.

Students who have studied abroad also acquire a high chance of employment due to their high level of connectivity. These students connect with potential employers while still taking up their studies. They easily reactivate the contacts and obtain their desired jobs as soon as they come back. The students who go to study abroad also have a stable financial background that enables them to stand tall above the competitive job market. However, the Chinese job market experiences an influx of graduates that have no jobs. The government has largely failed to provide jobs for the large number of trained individuals.


Even though the Chinese education system has great similarities to the American one, the latter is superior in all its aspects. American educational institutions that include the junior school, high school and even tertiary systems have better facilities in general. The institutions have facilities that promote practical skills in individuals that lead to innovations. On the other hand, the Chinese curriculum majors in academic excellence that, in most cases, ignores practical capabilities of an individual. The Chinese curriculum also ignores the talents that students possess whereas the American curriculum traces these talents and makes the best out of them.

The Chinese government, however, suffers greatly from brain drain in that its top professionals disappear in order to work in foreign lands after their studies. Thus, Chinese students end up developing the foreign countries at the expense of their motherland. The tendency is worrying, especially because China appears to be the world’s fastest growing economy, which demands their service. The government of China should be able to address the situation that is gaining popularity at a faster rate. The issue of greener pastures in foreign countries has also brainwashed both parents and students. America continues to benefit from these foreign students in terms of brainpower and innovations and even grants subsidies for those interested in furthering their studies overseas.