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Why aren’t Chinese students at UK universities getting top degrees?

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For  Yali Liu, the hardest thing about UK higher education is having to
go  to the pub. "It's how much you need to invest socially with other  
students," she says. "I don't like going to a pub or club, but people  
just keep going out and I feel the pressure to go out too." This is  
because, unlike in China, she says, there is so much emphasis during the
 course on teamwork and group projects, so socialising with other  
students is crucial. "It's not about what you know and how you work,  
it's really about working with other people – especially British  
people," she says. "I find that so difficult." Then there's what to talk
 about when she does go out. Why do her fellow students spend so much  
time analysing the TV programme First Dates, for example?

据英国《卫报》4月15日报道,对刘雅丽(音)来说,在英国上大学最难的是必须泡酒吧。“你得在和其他同学交际上大量投入,”她说。“我不喜欢上酒

吧或者俱乐部,但其他人都去,我就觉得不得不去。”因为和中国不同,这里课程很强调团队合作和团队项目,因此和其他同学搞交际是很关键的。“重要的不是你

自己知道什么或者你怎么做,真正重要的是与其他人合作——尤其是英国本地人。”她说“这对我来说太难了。”另外一个问题就是社交场合又该说些什么。为何她
的同学花那么多时间讨论电视节目,比如《第一次约会》?


 Liu, 23, who is in her final year of a BSc in business administration  
at the University of Bath's school of management, is one of more than  
80,000 Chinese students studying in UK universities. They make up the  
largest group of international students – there are now nearly as many  
Chinese as UK full-time postgraduate studentsand over 38,000  
undergraduates – and their numbers are growing fast. As a result, they  
are responsible for a large proportion of the more than £10bn a year  
that international students contribute to the UK economy.

刘今年23岁,是英国巴斯大学管理学院工商管理专业的大四学生。她说在英国大学学习的8万名中国学生之一。中国留学生是英国留学生最大的群体——目
前中国
留学生人数接近英国全日制研究生数目,并且超过了英国3.8万本科生的人数。而且这个数字一直在快速增长。中国留学生贡献了大部分英国每年100多亿英镑
的留学生收入。


But while the numbers of Chinese students attending UK universities  is a
success story, new research shows that where their academic  attainment
is concerned, the picture is not so good. While nearly 68% of  all
students – and 52% of overseas students from outside the European  Union
– graduated with a first or 2.1 last year, this was true of only  42%
of students from China, according to the latest figures from the  Higher
Education Statistics Agency (Hesa).

有这么多中国学生在英国留学,虽然这很是鼓舞人心,新的研究表明,从他们的学习成绩来看,情况并不乐观。英国高等教育统计局(HESA)的最新数据表明,
去年全体毕业生中,得到一级荣誉学位和二级甲等荣誉学位的毕业生比例为68%,欧盟国家以外的留学生中比例为52%,而中国留学生中比例仅为42%。


This undermines the traditional stereotype of the hard-working,  
high-achieving Chinese student. "There is all this talk – almost  
propaganda – about how brilliant the Chinese education system is, so  
when they come to the UK you would expect them to do really well," says
Zhiqi Wang, senior lecturer in accounting and finance at Bath Spa  
University and one of the authors of the new research. Wang says the  
reason for Chinese students' low academic attainment is unknown. "We  
could clearly see the poor performance of Chinese students at UK  
universities but we had no idea why it was." So to find an explanation,
Wang and Ian Crawford, a teaching fellow in accounting and finance at  
the University of Bath, decided to compare the performance of Chinese  
and British undergraduates in each year of their degree. Taking a sample
 of just over 100 British and Chinese accounting and finance  
first-degree students who enrolled in 2008, and comparing their average
marks and final degree classification, they found a dramatic drop in  
performance among the Chinese students between year one, when they  
performed better than their UK counterparts, and year two, when they  
performed worse. This did not seem to be explained by their previous  
academic qualifications.

这颠覆了中国学生勤奋努力、成绩优秀的传统形象。巴斯斯巴大学会计与金融专业的高级讲师王志奇(音)是这个最新研究的作者之一,他说,“人们一直在

大谈中国教育体系多么优秀,简直就是在鼓吹,于是中国学生到英国留学,你就觉得他们会表现出色。”王说,中国留学生学习成绩不佳原因还不清楚。“中国留学

生表现不佳,情况很明显,但我们不知道原因在哪。”为了找出原因,王和他的同事伊恩·克劳福特决定对中国学生和英国本科生每一学年的成绩进行比较研究。他

们选取了100名2008年入学的中国和英国会计与金融专业学生作为研究样本,对他们的平均分数和最终学位等级作了比较研究,发现一年级时中国学生比英国
学生表现更好,二年级时表现更差,两年之间落差很大。他们之前的获得的学历证明并不能解释其中的原因。


Crawford and Wang believe the slump in attainment can be put down to  
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.

克劳福特和王认为,学习成绩的倒退可以归结为两个因素。首先,中国学生没有学会调整学习方法,所以一年级以后随着学业难度的增加,他们成绩就开始下滑。其

次,尽管中国和英国教育体系差别并不是那么大,但中国特别强调通过学习获得学历,这就意味着很多年轻人上大学是迫于家庭和就业的压力,而不是源自内心的动
力。


According to Cristina Iannelli, professor of education and social  
stratification at the University of Edinburgh, part of the problem may  
be the changing socio-economic background of Chinese undergraduates.  
Using figures from the Hesa, Ianelli found that while 85% of Chinese  
undergraduates at British universities in 2000 and 2001 were mature  
students, often funded by the Chinese government, since 2004, they have
have been younger, more likely to be women, funded by their families
and  therefore more in need of support. "We accept all these students
but we  don't know much about them," says Ianelli. "I see some of them  
struggling because they really don't know before coming here exactly  
what is expected of them." She says it can be difficult to measure how  
well they are prepared academically because it is hard to benchmark the
qualifications they have against A-levels. "Are we just opening up our
universities and we don't care what their prior attainment is, or are
we  actually comparing qualifications across international education  
systems?" she asks. "We may be accepting students who aren't as good as
they should be. Or it could be language, or experiencing a different  
culture."

爱丁堡大学教育和社会等级专业教授克里斯安娜·伊安内利表示,部分问题可能在于中国本科留学生的社会和经济背景正在发生变化。根据HESA的数据,伊安内

利发现2000年和2001年在英国大学的中国留学生85%是成年人,多是由政府提供资金;自2004年开始,中国留学生年龄更小了,很多是女生,都是家

里出钱来学习,因此需要更多的支持。“我们接收了这些学生,但并不了解他们,”伊安内利说,“我看到一些人很挣扎,因为在来这里之前他们并不知道自己应该

做什么。”她说很难去衡量他们在学业方面准备得如何,因为很难以他们的普通教育高级证书(A-Levels)作为基准来评估他们的资质。“我们的大学是否
就只顾接纳学生而不管学生之前的表现如何呢?我们有没有就国际上不同教育体系内的不同学历做过比较呢?”她提出这样的问题,“也许我们接纳的学生并未达
标。也可能是语言障碍的原因,或者是他们在异国文化里还不适应。”


Gita Sedghi, lecturer in chemistry at the University of Liverpool,  who
ran a project last year for the Higher Education Academy on  preparing
for the arrival of a group of Chinese chemistry students, says  
contacting students before their arrival, assigning them mentors,  
encouraging peer-assisted learning and ensuring they are properly  
integrated with home students can help international students adapt to a
 different culture. But, she says, language skills can still affect how
 some students perform academically, with those from China tending to  
perform worse in exams when written explanations are needed than in  
exams relying on calculations. "Chinese students' culture is that they  
work to get credits and marks and because they don't get credit for  
going to English classes, their attendance can be poor," she says. "We  
have now asked for them to get a certificate of attendance at these  
classes."

吉塔·赛德吉是利物浦大学的化学讲师。去年她为英国高等教育协会主持了一个项目,为中国学化学的留学生适应在的英国学习做前期培训。给这些留学生配备导
师,鼓励同学之间协助学习,并且确保他们能融进本地学生的生活,这些都能帮助留学生适应异国文化。但是,她说语言技能仍然会影响一些学生的学习成绩,在要

求写书面解释的考试中,中国留学生表现得就会比在只要计算的考试中更差。“中国学生的传统就是学习就是为了获得学分和分数,上英语课没有学分,所以出勤率
就很差。我们现在要求他们有这些课程的出勤证明。”她说。


Liu says that this mentality of working only for credits could affect
 Chinese students' performance in another way. In China, degree  
classifications do not exist; working incredibly hard at school and  
performing well in exams to get to a good university matters more than  
what happens once they are there. "It's a one-off event and nothing can
change it," she says. "Afterwards students just relax. They never have
the same pressure again."

刘雅丽说这种只追求学分的心态还会以另外一种方式影响中国学生的成绩。中国没有学位等级制度;重要的是拼命学习考高分再上个好大学,至于上大学之后做什么
就管不着了。“上大学是成败在此一举的事,没有什么可以改变这种状况,”她说,“进了大学之后,学生只管放松。再也不会有之前的压力了。”


But it could also be that UK institutions need to work harder to take  
into account what a big step it is for young people from a radically  
different culture and linguistic background to get to grips with student
 life in the UK. "Our home students don't go abroad because they aren't
 confident enough to go," says Sedghi. "These kids [from China] are  
coming here and facing a big challenge. I think confidence is very  
important and we can help."

中国年轻的学生来自一个有着巨大差异的文化和语言背景,要融入在英国的学习生活,会是一个很大的跨越,也许英国的教育机构也需要尽力把这一点考虑进
去。赛
德吉说“我们的本土学生不出国留学是因为他们没有勇气出去。中国的孩子们来这里学习面临着巨大的挑战。我觉得这种勇气很重要,我们可以帮助他们度过难
关。”

2016-06-23

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