Survey: Chinese Applicants to U.S. Colleges Need English Lessons, Not Financial Assistance

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its “China Conundrum” series that many prospective Chinese applicants to U.S. colleges can afford to pay full tuition but lack the necessary English-language ability, according to a recent survey:

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed by Zinch China, a consulting company that advises American colleges and universities about China, said their families can afford to spend $40,000 or more, per year, on an undergraduate education. Another 22 percent reported they could spend between $10,000 and $40,000 a year.

But more than a third of the students in the Zinch study don’t speak English well enough to function in an American classroom. Just 18 percent have the advanced linguistic skills that would allow them to participate in a seminar-type setting.

The findings confirm what many American colleges have reported: a recent influx of students from China with limited English proficiency. Students with subpar English often struggle with classroom discussions and may have to spend months in special language courses.

The survey results, however, offer some welcome news to American institutions, as they suggest that a sizable share of students from the largest source country—there are more than 157,550 Chinese students at American colleges, according to recent figures—can afford to pay all, or a substantial part, of their college costs.

See also previous CDT coverage of how American colleges can better serve Chinese applicants and break bad recruiting habits in China.