Jay's Take: More Chinese in U.S. Colleges Good for All
Today’s startling story about a jump in applications to American colleges from China contradicts a widely held belief that Chinese high schools and colleges have surpassed ours, and our children will soon be driving taxi cabs in Beijing, begging for tips from formerly Communist billionaires. My colleague Susan Kinzie discovered that the long-held admiration among Chinese for U.S. universities has not died, but grown stronger, particularly now that so many more Chinese can afford to come here.
The Chinese learn fast. Their own universities are hard to get into, have poor living conditions and suffer from old equipment and a political system that still squashes free thinkers. American universities are the opposite, something the growing Chinese middle class is discovering from the Internet and the many American contacts they have made in the 30 years since relations were normalized in 1979, the year I moved to Beijing as the Post’s reporter.
We have plenty of room in this country for more bright, motivated undergraduates who can pay tuition. I also believe that what those students learn here can only bring more freedom and creativity to their great nation when they get back home. That will be a benefit for the whole world. Also, our own students will get some needed in-your-face competition in their classes and their labs from young Chinese whose culture respects science and engineering, unlike our fixation on careers on law and finance. And those who criticize American education will learn that, at least when it comes to our colleges, we can still teach the world a thing or two.
Washington Post editors
| May 1, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
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