An estimated 8,000 Chinese students studying in America were expelled last year for cheating or for extremely poor academic performance, a survey by a company catering to Chinese students has found.
The report was put together by WholeRen Education, which served the Chinese market, and was originally written in Chinese. It was translated by The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog, which noticed the big expulsion figure. Of the approximately 8,000 expulsions, more than 80 percent were due to poor academic performance or cheating.
According to the International Institute of Education, there were 274,439 Chinese students attending U.S. universities in the 2013-14 school year, representing about one-third of all foreign college students. The figure of 8,000 expulsions suggests that almost 3 percent of Chinese students are being expelled in a given year. That number isn’t extreme, but it’s notable, especially since Chinese students studying abroad are supposed to be high achievers. More than half of those expelled were attending top 100 institutions in the U.S., an average of 40 students per school in a single year.
The high expulsion rate represents what has proven to be a recurring issue with Chinese students entering top U.S. schools: sterling credentials that are built upon cheating, plagiarism, rote memorization, and paying others to write essays or take tests.
“Chinese students used to be considered top-notch but over the past five years their image has changed completely — wealthy kids who cheat,” Chen Hang, WholeRen’s chief development officer, told the Journal.
The report comes just a day after 15 Chinese nationals were arrested for their roles in a conspiracy to cheat on the SAT and allow Chinese students to secure fraudulent college admissions based on their ill-gotten scores. It’s only the latest incident to showcase widespread academic dishonesty in Chinese culture. The College Board has repeatedly grappled with plots to cheat on Asian administrations of the SAT, and in 2013 there was a riot in the Chinese city of Zhongxiang when officials tried to prevent cheating on a major test. Even at the professional level, China has been wracked with severe plagiarism issues.
The number of students who warrant expulsions for academic reasons could potentially be even higher. Many universities covet Chinese students because they typically pay a full tuition load, and there has been substantial pressure to have professors simply change their standards and teaching methods in order to accommodate Chinese students whose grasp of English is less than advertised.
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