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Thread by @Scholars_Stage: "I'm actually 100% OK with a reduced number of Chinese academic visas. I have argued for this before, actually. This is the thread why I remi […]"

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I'm actually 100% OK with a reduced number of Chinese academic visas. I have argued for this before, actually. This is the thread why I remind you why.
There are a strange number of people who are protesting this move on economic grounds. Academia is a huge market! and all of that.

Look folks, I'm pretty traditionalist. Universities and education are about more than the $ brought in. The question we need to ask is this:
Is the current number of Chinese students on American universities conducive to the health of the American university classrooms, the university system more broadly, the education and career prospects of the Chinese students themselves, and the future of Sino-American relations?
I say "no" on all counts.
Let me start with a blunt fact: many, likely a majority, of undergraduate Chinese students in America are at the time of their enrollment not qualified to be there. I mean this in several senses. The first involves fraud.
Results from a 2012 survey by Zinch China suggest that 90% of Chinese applicants falsified something on their college applications. I have seen no evidence that this number has decreased in the years since then. To the contrary, fraud is the norm. I will give you a few examples
that I have personally witnessed within the last few months. I recently sat down with a small group of teenagers who were ED'd into prestigious U.S. universities. To help them get into these universities, the school they attended excused them from all classes their entire senior
fall semester. This was not apparent from their transcripts. I asked if any of them had mentioned this fact during their interviews when asked about their experience that semester--one girl had. The one who was ED'd into Yale. But the rest lied through their teeth.
A few months ago I was talking to a boy who was ED'd into a prestigious American university in the south. I found this curious, as his English was not as good as you might expect for an ED. He admitted to me that his entire application had been filled out and written by someone
else. The essay involved an entirely made up charity drive that he had never actually organized. So did all of the activities listed, etc. It was all made up. And it worked.

Final example. An English teacher was talking to me a few months ago about a student he failed. Turns
out the student had political connections. His transcript was changed behind the teacher's back for the sake of admissions.

It is really difficult to overstate just how normal all of this is. Everybody uses an agency, every agency pressures students to fudge or cheat.
Parents pressure their children to fudge or cheat, and so do teachers. You can buy someone to take the TOEFL for you for US $300 (last time I checked at least, in Nov). You can buy essay writers, you can buy it all. And many students do.
Universities try to detect this, but even the firms they use to do this can and have been corrupted to play the system (for example see here… ).

But for the most part the universities don't care. They don't really care if the Chinese students' have the
ability to succeed in their uni, because what they mostly want is to rake them for their money. So they have let in a stupendous flood of Chinese students over the last five years. The number has risen from the ten thousands to the hundred thousands. But most unis stopped there.
This is where all that fraud stuff upthread starts to matter. A Chinese who managers to international outreach office of her school said to me, "Look, it doesn't really matter, we pay them money and they give us degrees, how they get in isn't really important." But the problem
isn't how you get in, but what you do when you get there. Letting in a flood of unqualified students means... you must deal with a flood of unqualified students. This is really, really hard for everyone involved.
The fraud continues of course (see… ) but that really isn't the concern.
The concern is that you have students who simply are not prepared for a Western style curriculum taught in the English language. This issue has also been covered in the media before (…) but to re-cap, the influx of Chinese students puts a lot of pressure
on professors and non-Chinese students. Again and again professors complain about having to "dumb things down" to meet the language level of the Chinese students. The students also are unfamiliar with many basics of Western education--say, the concept of a "thesis statement" or
speaking up in class--and they come in such large numbers (often crowding in certain classes together for mutual support) that they can't be socialized into these norms. This can lead to really nasty reactions from their teachers and fellow students, reactions that veer into
racist territory. This closes & isolates Chinese students even further, creating a vicious cycle. (Fuerdai jetting around in BMWs while U.S. students get by on bus-cards adds2 the resentment).

Which brings me to my2nd point: the effect this has on the Chinese students themselves
"Alienation 101" is what @brooklarmer titled his long narrative account of Chinese students at UoI.… It is an accurate summary of many Chinese students' experience in America. A lot of Americans have these starry eyed ideas that Chinese students will come
to our country, experience American values first hand, and come away neat little liberal democrats. Or barring that, that they will at least feel a sense of fond attachment to the country of their college years.

This is not happening. If anything, the *opposite* is happening.
A very large number of students, perhaps the majority, come away disenchanted with America, with democracy, with it all. They have made no American friends and have had little real experience with American life (except the unpleasant parts like campus protests and tests) despite
living here for four years. Why? Well it mostly has to do with two factors: language competence and the sheer number of Chinese admitted.

Look at it this way: let's say you are a Chinese student who is new to America. You don't speak English well enough to negotiate rent,
or watch an un subtitled English language movie comfortably, or talk for a few hours in English with friends without being completely exhausted. So you don't do those things. You live with other Chinese people, watch all your movies on iqiyi, and don't have American friends.
Now this isn't really a "Chinese" thing persaye. If you look at Western students in China, or other foreign groups on American universities, you see something similar, but on a smaller scale. Humans are clannish, and dealing with foreigners in their language is stressful.
But because of the huge numbers of Chinese students let in, the scale of is just different. If you go to a university like UoI Urbana, you can live your entire American experience inside a Chinese bubble. The media you consume, social media you use, vehicles you buy, places you
rent, things you do, clubs you participate in, food you buy--you do it all in漢語. The only things not in Chinese are classes. If you come to U.S. with bad English to start out with, you will never get better. Might even get worse, because your incentive to study is gone!
It also has a few other bad side effects. It isolates you from the rest of the student body. At a lot of midwestern universities you see this: Americans on one side, Chinese on the other. Separate social worlds, and a lot of disdain running both ways.
It also means you never gain one of the core skills you *should* be able to market back in China: the ability to fluidly move between Chinese and American cultures. That is important, because the market value of an American degree is dropping, fast.
This is partially, I think, a function of supply and demand. The bigger the supply of returnees becomes, the lower wages these kids will make unless demand has a corresponding boost.
But it is also because as unis have lowered their standards to suck in Chinese cash, the utility of a U.S degree as a signaling device has gone down. It is not a guarantee of the skills it used to be.
Which is how we end up with stories like this… where families sell their homes to send their children abroad, only to have her make a pittance of what her education cost.
This is wrong. Universities accept Chinese students that are not academically prepared, do nothing to help them after admittance, charge them rates so high that their parents spend their entire savings on their education, & then leave them with a worthless degree. this is WRONG.
Now let me qualify this general picture a bit. The Chinese students who actually speak English well almost never have any of these problems.

The Ivy League, which admits much smaller numbers with better English, don't have these problems. This is the story of midwest State U
You'll notice that the end product State U provides the Chinese student is not too different from what they provide the American student (absent alienation and mental health problems… ). Which brings me to my final point.
The influx of Chinese students to the United States has been harmful to the university system because it has allowed the system to stave off reforms that would otherwise have been forced upon them long ago.
You see all of these studies that calculate how much wealth universities add to their local economies. What is missing from this picture? DEBT. How many of these studies include the debt load in their calculations? Too few, too few.
You'll remember the flurry of editorials and think pieces 2007-2009 like claiming that we were in an education bubble and that this bubble would soon pop. They might have been right. But something happened shortly afterwords that kept the engine roaring....
Look folks, if the American university system is dependent on Chinese students to keep itself financial solvent, then the American university system is in a very unhealthy state.
Universities have been swallowed by the "all administrative university" to use Ron Srigley's phrase… . This sort of university exists in large part because Chinese students are paying for it.
Taking away this artificial source of funds is the first step to reform.

This will be painful. It will mean a real down-sizing of the industry. Smaller State Us will close. The academic job market will only get tougher.
But the changes need to come. That won't happen if Chinese students are allowed to subsidize the worst aspects of the system.

So to recap:
I am not saying ban all Chinese students. I am saying we should have much higher standards than we currently do. I am saying that all parties involved would be better served if we had 30,000-60,000 Chinese students instead of 400,000 Chinese students.
If we admitted only the top tenth to eight of what we currently admit, then we would:

1) not need to worry so much about Chinese students not having the English skills needed to integrate with the universities

2) not have uni resources spread so thin among them
3) Provide a better, more meaningful experience for the Chinese students actually admitted

4) Help them get better jobs when they go home

5) Cut an unsustainable university system away off from the artificial life support it uses to avoid reform.
That's all folks!
Follow up thread here
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