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June 15, 2012

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Home » Metro » Education

Study abroad prep courses boom

INTERNATIONAL curricula and courses to prepare for international college entrance exams are booming as more local parents try to send students to study overseas.

The city now has more than 20 educational institutes, including public high schools and private-run training centers, offering full-time courses for SAT, IB and A-level. There were only six such institutes five years ago. Most new ones popped up in the past two years.

But the market lacks supervision and regulations amidst heated competition for students, good teachers and tuition money.

The Shanghai Education Commission has launched an investigation into the services to develop such regulations.

"The international courses will bring new ideas to local schools and improve the overall educational quality," said Zhang Jin, a commission official. "But local schools should combine the international courses with the Chinese ones," he added.

Currently, most schools and institutes just totally abandon Chinese textbooks and curricula, while a few schools keep some traditional cultural courses in the international classes.

"These children have no backup choice," said Zhan Zhengzhi, director of Cambridge International Center of Cambridge University, one of the earliest providers, set up in 2006.

"They give up Chinese education and cannot take the national college entrance exam," he said. "If they fail, the outcome will be disastrous," he said.

Most parents and students know little about how to choose the courses, which cost about 90,000 yuan (US$14,400) a year on average, according to the service providers.

"About two-thirds of the parents who apply for their children to take international courses have completely no idea of overseas education," Liu Haisu, an official with the Education Center for Gifted Youth, another course provider.

The new field also lacks experienced teachers.

To help parents learn more about the international courses, the education authorities invited seven standard international course providers to attend the 13th Shanghai Modern Education and Study Abroad Exhibition to be held at the East Asia Exhibition Hall on June 23-24. The exhibition has invited scores of colleges from the United States, Canada, Britain and many other countries.


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