The NYTimes had a terrific article, “The China Boom”, profiling the rise of Chinese students enrolling in American colleges (link here). This article really hit home as I am a frequent visitor to China as well as a former adviser to incoming Chinese students.
From my perspective I have found two different types of universities recruiting Chinese students. The first truly values their presence on campus and in the classroom. These universities spend a great deal of time and resources providing support for foreign students to help with the transition. Mr. Qi’s story, from the article, transferring from a school to find one that closer matched his ambitions is a real learning point. It is hard enough to acclimate, and even harder when there is little support from the university. Additionally, the best schools give training to faculty to support teaching Chinese students to ease the transition and to make available additional support.
The second type of institution recruiting Chinese students values their presence more as a financial resource. The enrollment of foreign students is a way to fill coffers, much like then numbers of out-of-state students are used to help buffer budgets. Their presence on campus is viewed more from an ego-boosting “look how international are campus is” stance. These universities provide few resources tailored to the needs of foreign-born students.
One final comment on Ms. Liu’s story, also from the article, in which her friends in China referred to her as being “contaminated by American culture and not Chinese anymore.” This is very real as my experiences with Chinese students can attest. A former advisee told me that he was called “a banana” by his friends from home. Banana meaning yellow on the outside and white on the inside. All the more reason why institutions need to provide support tailored to the specific needs of Chinese students.