An article in the Guardian recently asked, “Why aren’t Chinese students at UK universities getting top degrees?” A recent study of undergraduate students found that compared to 52% of students from outside the European Union who scored a 2:1 or higher (2:1 is the second highest degree you can achieve under the British undergraduate degree classification), only 42% of students from China did. And this is compared to an overall 68% of students who achieved a 2:1 or higher.
Why is this? Zhiqi Wang and Ian Crawford — authors of a study that compared the average marks and final degree classification of just over 100 British and Chinese accounting and finance first-degree students who enrolled in 2008 — cites two factors:
First, Chinese students fail to adapt their approaches to learning and so their performance declines in the later years of a degree when the complexity of the work increases. And, second, while the UK and Chinese education systems are not that different, the strong focus in China on study and achieving qualifications means many young people enrol in higher education due to pressure from family or the jobs market rather than their own motivation.
There’s no question that studying overseas is difficult. This is why we believe adjustment is so important and why we wrote a guide to help parents and students understand what to expect of the overseas study experience. Whether socially or academically, knowing what others will expect of you will be crucial to helping you perform better, if not well. As Cristina Iannelli, professor of education and social stratification at the University of Edinburgh, observes “we accept all these students but we don’t know much about them. "I see some of them struggling because they really don’t know before coming here exactly what is expected of them."
Find out more here.
This blog first appeared in Prep Beijing on December 4 and was written by Alicia Lui.
Alicia Lui is a co-founder at Prep Beijing!, a coaching company focusing on core soft skills such as effective communication, social and emotional skills, etiquette, critical thinking and leadership skills. Prior to founding Prep Beijing! She has worked in management consulting and in banking. She holds and MBA from INSEAD and Bachelor’s from University of Chicago
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