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Thousands flock to school exhibition

THERE was a heavy turnout for the 14th China International Education Exhibition Tour over the weekend. Thousands of students nearing graduation and young employees facing the possibility of being laid off flocked to the event, the third leg of the country's biggest annual education fair.

The fair attracted 271 educational institutes from 26 countries and regions to meet potential applicants for their study programs.

Thousands of students and parents packed the exhibition, held at the Shanghai Everbright Convention and Exhibition Center, seeking information about overseas study, hoping to use the fallow period during the economic downturn to gain further academic qualifications.

Many foreign schools participated in the exhibition to increase their number of students from the Chinese mainland as the downturn takes a bite out of many of their other overseas markets.

"I expect the economic crisis will have passed by the time I graduate again," said Michelle Chen, a student majoring in finance at a university in Zhejiang Province. Chen decided to apply for further education after a number of fruitless job searches.

The yuan's appreciation has made it cheaper for Chinese mainland students to study abroad.

"It's a very good occasion to study abroad now," said Zoey Zhou, majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. She plans to apply for a British school, though she has already secured a good job opportunity.

Education experts are expecting increasing numbers of applicants and fiercer competition for overseas places this year.

"Applicants for postgraduate study in Australia are up 100 percent," said Darwin Yuan, general manager of IDP in Shanghai and East China area.

Due to the increasing numbers of applicants, many foreign schools have raised their entry requirements, adding language skills and work experience.

Many visitors to the exhibition were disappointed to find United States schools providing fewer scholarships, especially for those applying for doctoral degrees.

"The economic crisis has greatly decreased the amount of funding colleges are receiving from businesses," said Will Li, senior consultant at Wiseway International Corp Ltd, an agency specializing in overseas study.


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