Investigating the Popularity of Western Education Establishments in China

Published: 2017-10-06 15:05:07
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Chinese government

The Chinese government has dedicated themselves in fighting a war on American culture and the use of English in the country. This is because, most urban children commonly begin studying English, along with math and Chinese, in the third grade, and it is considered as one of the three main subjects during elementary and high school. The authority however, fears that Chinese are losing mastery over their written language. That is, with the advanced technologies armed with character recognition software, most Chinese lack the need to memorize the strokes for the 3500 to 4000 characters, required by an average high school graduate to know. Over the last decades, English has risen in importance in the crucial gaokao and zhongkao, that is, the annual college and high school exams held in the mid-year. Some studies assume that the importance of English in the national education system has been complemented by an increase in private language schools and teaching institutes across the country. The entire Chinese society assumes that English is crucial for a person who plans to further his or her education and seek a much better career. Most of them agree that people who have a good command of English are more competitive that their peers.

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There is an ascent in demand of international schools in Asia. More universal schools are setting up in a several Asian nations.

One of the top all inclusive schools, Wycombe Abbey of England is due to open a school in China. They are following other British schools like Harrow, Dulwich College, Malvern and Wellington.

Wycombe Abbey is a young lady's all inclusive school in Buckinghamshire. Nonetheless, the one they are going to open in China will be co-instructive and their educational programs will consolidate a crossover of both Chinese and English educational programs. Students in this school will concentrate on IGCSEs and A-levels alongside Chinese educational programs in science. Rather than giving training to greater part of universal understudies or UK families, it will house 90 percent Chinese students.

It has been reported that there is an ‘insatiable demand in China for an English medium education’ (Svoboda, 2015). However, much effort has been put forth by tutors such as Rhiannon Wilkinson, Wycombe Abbey’s headmistress, in order to deal with the unquenchable demand of English-based schooling scheme and Chinese systems. Rhiannon continues to report that “They don’t want to be westernised but they want to apply to western universities”

There is a very high chance that if Asia continues to recklessly engage in the expansion of global schools, the training in the region will be massively affected (Lin, 2007). Before, diplomats, leaders, and legislators were the only people allowed to attend universal schools, but according to Vincent (2015), professionals in Asian relations also developed a sudden interest in universal schools as time went by. The requests for international schools have expanded throughout the years in light of the goals of working class guardians and the deficiencies seen by them of the national training framework.

Currently, Asia is considered to be largest business sector for worldwide education. That is, about 2.4 million understudies of the continent can actually receive training from about 4,181 worldwide schools (Wang, 2003). This implies that it covers about 55 per cent of the worldwide global school market.

The Asian Economic Community (AEC) supports the interest of worldwide schools, due to the fact that English is the key financial alliance's reliable language. Hence, the HEFCE (2012) reports that there is ‘an interest for top notch English dialect instruction which has boosted the regions international schools’.

Contemporary Education in China

In 1949, the main idea for the Maoist government was to build the government under a foundation of a powerful and incorporated training framework (Elman, 2000). Throughout the Maoist period there was a consistent pressure between ability (high scholarly capabilities) and redness (political unwavering quality). This achieved an emergency point amid the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when instruction in schools was hugely disturbed and colleges to a great extent stopped to work. Since Mao's demise, his endeavour to change customary demeanours to instruction has reversed: old qualities have returned more grounded than any time in recent memory. There are a few explanations behind this. The Cultural Revolution era as guardians have been resolved to repay through their children for their own particular instructive deficiencies. The one child policy dating from 1978 implies that now the venture force of two guardians and, progressively, four grandparents is focused on a solitary child. In the meantime, the move from an order economy, in which school and college graduates were distributed to employments, to a business sector economy in which landing a position relies on upon the capacity to contend in the commercial centre, has created colossal weights on students and their families to increase instructive achievement.

The present educational framework in China is as follows: optional kindergarten, obligatory primary education from age six to twelve, and three years of obligatory middle school from age twelve to fifteen. The framework, as in conventional China, is ruled by examinations. Both the school and college frameworks are extremely various levelled. Freely subsidized schools are partitioned into first class "key" schools and normal schools. The key schools are accessed, either via great examination results or lower results. In addition to money, there have been predominant offices and exceptionally energetic students who overwhelm the gaokao 'national college placement tests' (Lin, 2007:52; Ding and Lehrer, 2007: 199).

A further element of the business sector has been the development of non-public schools and public schools. They incorporate now various joint endeavours with remote establishments. Henceforth Dulwich College and Harrow School both have Chinese partners, Dulwich College Beijing, Dulwich College International School Shanghai and Harrow International School Beijing. Nottingham and Liverpool Universities both have joint-venture grounds in China. Also an expanding number of Chinese adolescents are taking 'outside selection tests' to apply for undergrad places at remote colleges. For the most part these are weaker however rich students whose guardians need to maintain a strategic distance from the loss of face in sending their child to a low-grade Chinese college. This doesn't have any significant bearing to students applying for postgraduate courses abroad, who are frequently high-accomplishing students.

Many Chinese parents wish to give their children a Western-style education while keeping them close to home. For these families, boarding schools in China are an alluring alternative in view of their vicinity, as well as the fact that their style of learning is seen as a portal into Western education techniques, which have a tendency to contrast from the Asian approach (Spence, J. 1990. 87). Boarding schools additionally offer a few focal points over neighbourhood government funded schools, for example, smaller class sizes, more assets, better quality learning apparatuses, all the more difficult educational programs, and a variety of extracurricular exercises.

The Western presence in Asia is additionally a component in the development of international boarding schools. According to Svoboda’s review of global schools, we noticed that more than 15,000 British and about 30,000 American expatriates were living in Hong Kong (Svoboda, S. 2016). As in the frontier past, expatriate local people have a tendency to send their young to schools that hold the educational conventions of their nations of origin. From a legislative point of view, branch boarding schools are likewise seen as gainful (Svoboda, S. 2016). Asian nations incline towards the hometown education during their developmental years. Satellite boarding schools get that going, and frequently profit by liberal advances and assessment benefits.

Study Methodology

The methodology that will be used for this study is the qualitative research method. Given the nature of the situation that will be under investigation in this study the use of a qualitative approach will be most formidable as it will help in understanding the phenomenon in a clearer way. Furthermore, it is harder to find specific data for the issue at hand. Since the study will be looking at the perceptions of the participants with regard to a certain social issue, it would hardly be useful to use specific variables to drive the study. On the other hand, it would be sufficient to use qualitative methods and tools to harness the needed information that can be then interpreted to reach to a viable and valid conclusion.

Pilot Study

As Barrett, et al (2002) say, most qualitative studies can benefit a lot from a pilot study. A pilot study is a scaled-down version of the actual study and it helps in pointing out any issues that may arise from carrying out the study this helps in saving time and resources because once these issues are identified before the actual study commences, they can be corrected. For this particular study, a pilot study will be necessary to make sure that the apparatus and the materials used for the study are well designed. For instance, since the study will make extensive use of interviews, this pilot study will helping making sure that the interview materials and processes are not flawed. Any flaws can be identified as early as possible and be corrected before the actual study begins.


The participants will be composed of college students who attend western universities within China. These students will be of age 18-25 and will include both males and females. They will be selected using a random sampling method in order to make sure that the cohort is as representative of the general population as possible. To get the nest result, it would be necessary to get up to fifty participants. However, due to the fact that this is a limited study with limited resources, the study will use 18 participants. As Teijlingen and Hundley (2002) say, in a qualitative study, even a number as small as 12 participants is sufficient. This is more so for a study that intends to understand the perceptions of the participants regarding a certain issue. Therefore, because this study is about identifying the perception of western education among Chinese students, it would suffice to use 18 participants.


The study will make intensive use of interviews and questionnaires.


Interviews will be held with the participants as a way to get the information from them. The interview questions will be designed to suit the need of the study, which is to answer the research question as described in the proposal. Interviews can be a fitting way to get such information from the participants. However, it is important to consider which type of interviews are needed. With regard to qualitative studies, one can use structured, unstructured or semi-structured interviews. Structured interviews may be convenient and useful in a situation where the right questions can be preempted and known in advance. However, in the current study, it is possible that some questions may come up in the context of the interview and which may help in getting more useful information from the participants (Burnard, 2001). In such a case, it would be necessary to make sure that the interviewing context is flexible enough to pursue any issues that may come up during the interviewing process (Crabtree & Bloom, 2006). As a result, the interviews used for this study will be semi structured. This will mean that some of the interview questions will be predesigned while others will have to be asked as the interview goes on. Each participant will be asked the structured interview questions while the unstructured questions will be asked contextually depending on the responses of the individual participants. To further improve the validity of the information gotten from the interviews, each interviewee will be interviewed individually as opposed to using a group interview.


Questionnaires will be useful in this particular study for two main reasons. First, the questionnaires will provide a way to get some more information that the participants can provide without having to attend an interview session (Bryman, 2006). Second, if well prepared, the answers that the participants give in a questionnaire can be used to check for potential discrepancies in the information that the participants give in the interviews. Furthermore, the questionnaires will also be useful in capturing some information that is not directly related to the phenomena being investigated. This may include information such as the names, the college and the academic program that the student is attending.

In designing the interview and the questionnaire questions, it will be necessary to make sure that the questions do not overlap. This will be necessary to avoid redundancy and unnecessary workload during the analysis of the results.


The first issue will be to find the potential candidates in order to develop a cohort that is as representative of the general population as possible. This will be easy because these students can be found on campus. Potential participants will be picked randomly and they will have to fulfill some requirements with regard to their social-cultural backgrounds. For instance, the students will have to be Chinese nationals, not just any Asians. They also have to be those attending a western university, whether within china or outside. Once a participant meets these conditions, they will be informed about the study and they will also be asked if he could join. Those who will accept the offer to be part o the study will be given further information about the study. Information about the location and the time frames of the interviews will be offered. Contact information will also be acquired from the students in order to have an easy way to contact them once the actual study commences.

The students will be contacted at least two days before their interview session is due and will be reminded about the location and informed about the day and time. Once they confirm their availability, they will be slotted for the interview. During the actual day of the interview, the student will be contacted a few hours before the interview so as to avoid any last minute inconveniences. The interview and the filling of the questionnaires will be done during the same session so as to save the participants the trouble of having to waste too much of their time. In this regard, after arriving for the interview session, they will first take thirty minutes of their time filling the questionnaire and also familiarizing with the context of the interview. Once this is done, they will be engaged with the interview sessions answering the various questions with regard to their sentiments about the western education. The questions in the interview will be grouped into three major categories as follows;

Culture Related Issues

Of course, it is necessary to recognize that a major reason why China has for the longest time refused and avoided western education is because of the perception that it disrupts the age old Chinese culture and traditions (Hazel & Shinobu, 1991). With regard to this study, it will be necessary to find out whether the young people also have the same attitude. The questions for this apart will be geared towards identifying whether the young people feel that western education is a threat to their native culture. Furthermore, the questions will also be geared towards identifying whether they feel that there is a need for their native culture to be sustained and conserved.

Globalization related issues

One of the things to consider with the regard to the proliferation of western education in China is the issue of globalization (Hu, 2002 ). It is significant to consider that globalization is a formidable force and most people in the world are feeling the need to be globally competent. Chinese education may not offer the necessary skills to compete in a global world where English is the de facto language. Apart from just English (note that Chinese universities do not use English as the instruction language), being conversant with western culture is an added advantage for most people who are not natives of the western world. As a result, the second group of questions will be designed to investigate this issue and determine if the younger generation of Chinese students is more concerned with being globally competent. In this regard, the questions will look at these perceptions of the Chinese students with regard to whether they feel that western education is superior to the Chinese education, especially where competing in a global world is concerned.

Family culture issues

The third category of questions will be with regard to how the students feel their parents regard western education. With regard to this issue, there are a few pertinent issues that have to be put into consideration. First there is the issue of the fact that Chinese parents are more overbearing in their children’s life more than western parents. In this regard, a Chinese parent is likely to be a major decision maker in the child’s life even if the person has reached the age of a young adult. Secondly, given that these are college students who are most likely to be dependent on their parents for financial support both for college fees and upkeep, this can be a determinant factor,

Attitudes relating to cost and cost structure of western education

There is definitely a wide gap between the cost structure for western universities and colleges and that of Chinese institutions. The fourth category of the questions will be geared towards identifying whether this cost structure is a determinant factor with regard to how the Chinese students regard western education. More importantly, the questions will first seek to identify if the students are aware of the cost difference. The questions will then move on to determine if the students feel that the cost difference is justifiable in terms of the quality of the education and also in terms of the relevance of the education in a global market.


The analysis will involve looking at the responses of the individuals in order to make a conclusive decisions about the issue. More importantly, the analysis part of this study will look at the participants’ responses and then identifying the general perspective of the participants. To lead to a clear perceptive, it will be necessary to group the responses with regard to whether they tend to lean of the positive outlook of the western education. The analysis will involve three major processes as follows;

General perceptive

Depending on how the participants answered the question, it will be easy to determine if the student supports or does not support the western education. The question that will be most useful in this part if the one about whether the student thinks that western education at college level is better than the Chinese education.

The purpose of the study is to get the most reliable information about the general attitudes and perspectives of Chinese students towards western education. These perspectives can be affected by a host of factors ranging from family background to cultural background. For instance, a Chinese student whose parents were education in the west is more likely to have a positive perspective about western education compared to one whose parents did not go to such schools (Steinberg, et al 2002). Furthermore, the level of education of the parent, regardless of whether they attended a western or a Chinese institution of education can also affect the students’ attitude as the students are more likely to be inclined to their parent’s perceptions and attitudes. In this regard, it would be necessary to make sure that the cohort will be made of participants with varied family, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds in order to get the best results. Furthermore, this can be achieved through making sure that the study sample is composed of students from different school, possibly from both western and Chinese institutions.

The rationale about the perception

During the interviews, the students will also be asked questions regarding why they feel about western education. For those who will be have a positive perception about western education, further question will be on what basis they felt the way they did about western education. The answers will be based in issues such as quality, exposure or relevance in a global world. In terms of quality, the students will be answering the question of whether they feel that western education is of better quality than that found in Chinese institutions. With regard to exposure, the participants will answer questions regarding whether they feel or believe that the western education is better able to expose them to the world. Finally, with regard to relevance, the students will answer questions regarding whether they feel that western education is more relevant in a global world as opposed to Chinese education.

These two aspects will be used to determine how much the students are oriented towards one aide, either western of Chinese education. The conclusion will be based on the number of students who feel that one system of education is better than the other. Other factors such as whether or not the student is already in a western education institution will be considered. For those who are already in such institutions, it will be necessary to identify whey they are there as there may be a host of reasons. These reasons may be convenience (such as having a sponsored scholarship, the school being near their residence, or cost), whether or not the students chose to be in that school or were forced to go there because the parent said so, availability of the program they are doing in other similar Chinese institutions and any other reason.

All these factors will be considered as all will be important in not only determining the validity of the data collected, but will also useful in the analysis process.

Ethical Considerations

There are very few foreseeable ethical considerations or concerns for this study as it will involve just getting the perceptive about the participants on the issue of western education in China. However, regardless of this fact, a few issues will have to be put into consideration to avoid misunderstandings. For example, given the fact that this study is about two different cultures that seem to be competing, it is necessary to make sure that the materials used such as the questions and the questionnaires do not have anything that is demeaning to any of the two cultures. The questions will have to be designed in such a way that it does not insult any of the cultures. More importantly, it will have to be done in such a way that it does not insult the Chinese culture or depict it to be inferior to the western culture. As clearly established, the main issue to determine how the current generation of young Chinese students feel about western culture. As a result, proper language and wording will be used as a way to avoid unnecessary barriers that would hinder the efficiency of the study.

Issues to be aware of;

Although the interviews are a formidable way to carry out this kind of qualitative study, there are many issues that are likely to come up and affect not only the validity, but also the efficiency of the study (Seidman, 2013). Information gotten through interviews can be subjective enough to thwart the validity of the study and the end results (Ratner, 2002). As a result, there are a few pertinent issues that will have to be considered through the planning and the execution of this study. First, it will be necessary to come up with way to avoid ‘politically correct’ answers and create a situation where the interview feels comfortable to give his opinion as opposed to saying what he or she feels to be what is expected of him. This will be possible by giving the students open ended questions so that they can have a way to explore their own opinions as opposed to being limited to a yes or no answer.

It is also necessary to avoid misunderstandings and have clear questions while avoiding ambiguity. As already stated, the issue of ambiguity will b addressed through the pilot study that will help in identifying any unclear questions that must be addressed before the actual study.

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