There are more than a quarter of a million students from China in colleges in the United States – a third of all international students in the country – and almost a fivefold increase since 2000. Why do so many now come to study in the US?
Jayden chose the UIUC without ever having been to the US.He turned down an offer at a Chinese university in Shanghai because a Western education offered him the freedom to choose his focus of study.
That is representative of a number of Chinese students. They want to get out of a schooling system that uses test scores to determine the subjects students will take, which makes it difficult to change once these have been assigned.
There are other non-academic factors fuelling the spike in students going to the US, such as the expansion of China's middle class and policies on families.
Charles Tucker, vice provost for Undergraduate Education and Innovation at UIUC, points out that "children who were born under the one-child policy are now of college-educated age… and changes in the Chinese economy have promoted individual wealth in families".
Xuran (Sherry) Peng, one of the students from China, says her parents had to use a large portion of their savings to send her to UIUC.
They believe it is an investment that will benefit her entire family, including her six-year-old half brother.
"I feel like it's part of my responsibility to earn the tuition for him, because my parents actually have the big wish that both of us can finish our education in the US and probably work in the US in the future," she says.