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Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Playing loose with provincial licenses, in China.

Last week I visited one of the best high schools in southern China which now also officially offers a Canadian high school diploma via a provincial curriculum. My visit was a disturbing experience, which is all too common in China.

At lunch my colleague who speaks Chinese, was told that if her Canadian university did not waive the English-language requirement for admission of that school’s student applicants, then she was not welcomed again in that school. It was said in Chinese, and only afterwards did I understand why she had suddenly lost her appetite at the lunch.

Afterwards we sat in an auditorium along with a hundred prospective students and their parents, all to hear what the program president had to say about the advantages of this Canadian provincial diploma. He told the gathering (all in Chinese which I had interpreted for me) that TOEFL and IELTS was not required for almost all Canadian universities (we knew that was patently false,

Families were told that since the provincial exams were only worth 30% of the final mark, that the school controlled the majority of the admission criteria, with 70% of grades allotted in that Chinese school. He then told the audience that if there grades were below cut-off for admission, they could adjust the marks upwards a few points to be acceptable for entrance to a given Canadian university.

When I asked the Canadian head of the program (who speaks no Chinese) what he thought, he told me that the Canadians who were provincially accredited teachers in that school wanted to give “accurate” information on universities in Canada. But he was told they are not to do so, and that the school will stream students to the universities it chooses.

Crazy huh ?
Not really.
This is all about the money, lots of it, and in China if you can assure parents of the likelihood of their child’s admission to a Canadian university, they will sign up. The Chinese companies who control the provincial license charge hefty fees to process applications for university admissions and student visas.

This is nothing new for Canadian provincial boards of education operating in China. Standards and ethics be damned.

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About Mel

Mel has consulted universities, colleges, governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of international education since 1997. He is co-founder of Higher-Edge, the parent of Overseas, Overwhelmed, and a director of the Canadian University Application Centre. He is a former award-winning CBC reporter and holds a Masters degree from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

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