Ameson invites 21 Western university officials to promote understanding of Chinese education

 
The Ameson Foundation has been working to bridge the gap between global education systems since 1994 by fostering interaction and understanding among all levels of education professionals. From pro bono training of English teachers from across China to organizing study trips for Chinese education officials to foreign countries to explore what both sides could learn from one another, Ameson utilizes resources to create platforms for cross-cultural educational dialogue.
 

T

he Ameson Foundation believes that the best way to overcome the barrier of cross-cultural understanding is through dialogue.

As education grows beyond national borders and becomes increasingly a global endeavor, there is an growing need for educators to be familiar not only with the ins and outs of their own country’s educational system, but also to understand the systems of other countries. Thus, during the week of July 22-28, the Ameson Foundation invited 21 western university officials to Beijing for a week of information exchanges and education dialogues.

Almost non-existent just ten years ago, the field of college counseling has become one of the fastest growing markets in the Chinese economy. With the enormous number of Chinese students hoping to study abroad, these counselors must have a grasp of the Chinese system as well as the university systems of at least the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

The guests enjoyed warm Chinese hospitality throughout their visit at a number of sumptuous banquetsThis can be a daunting task for college counselors, many of whom have never studied abroad, or have first-hand experience with only one of these countries.
 
On the other hand, admissions professionals are receiving ever greater numbers of applications from foreign students. Given the wide discrepancies in curricula and assessment procedures between countries as well as between different regions of the same country, the more these professionals understand the local situations of various countries, the more they are able to effectively process the mountains of admissions requests they receive.

Those in attendance at the presentation: Mr. Michael C. Behnke (retired) former Vice President for University Relations and Dean of College Enrollment at the University of Chicago; Ms. Adele Brumfield, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ms. Sunny Chen, Beijing Manager for the University of Melbourne; Dr. Anne DeLuca, Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Zina Evans, Vice President for Enrollment Management at the University of Florida; Mr. Shawn Felton, Senior Associate Director of Admissions and University Recruitment Coordinator at Cornell University; Mr. Benjamin Gatlin, Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt; Ms. Wendy Holden, Acting Executive Director of Admissions at the University of Melbourne; Ms. Deborah Ann Kammerer is the Interim Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Yield for the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools at UC San Diego; Ms. San Lee, International Regional Recruiter and Admissions Advisor, University of California, Davis; Mr. Angel Perez currently serves as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Pitzer College; Ms. Lisa Przekop currently serves as the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Mr. Walter A. Robinson, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of UC Davis; Dr. Owen Saxton, Senior Research Associate in the University of Cambridge Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy; Dr. Vu Thanh Tran (retired), the former Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Dr. Patricia Wasyliw is the Assistant Dean of Academic Advising and Admissions in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University; Ms. Doris Davis, Ameson Foundation Senior Vice President. For further details about each participant, please click here.

A week’s worth of information exchanges

Guests attending a 'Chinese vs. International Curriculum' panel discussion featuring leading scholars at the Beijing education conferences (Mon. July 23)In July, 2012, the Ameson Foundation invited 21 dignitaries from top-tier Western universities to come to Beijing for a series of information exchanges with education professionals from all fields.

Many of the activities were designed to increase Western universities’ understanding of education in China, including exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses into the overall development strategy for Chinese education, lessons on how to identify the highest quality applications among Chinese students, research on Chinese student behavior in applying to university, and dialogues with principals and teachers implementing A.P. curricula in China.

Other events gave these professionals a chance to share their knowledge and experience with Chinese educators, including a series of workshops for Chinese college counselors, information sessions about their universities and adapting to life in Western countries, and a college fair open to the public and attended by many ACE students.

Below is a summary of the week’s activities.

A bird's eye view of the Chinese educational landscape

After arriving, the guests were given sufficient time to get their bearings before being formally received at a welcome banquet by senior Ameson officials. On Monday July 23, the week's events began with a full day of presentations designed to give a sweeping macro-view of the Chinese education landscape. In brief, the presentations included:

The conferences provided rare insights into contemporary matters regarding the Chinese education system
  • Long-term reform plans: Mr. Zhengguo Yuan (one of the key architects of the "National Mid- to Long-term Education Reform and Development Plan (2010-2020)") gave a keynote speech entitled "Globalization and China Education Strategy.”
  • Insights into the Gaokao exam: Mr. Songhua Tan (Chief Designer and decision maker for the Gaokao examination) gave a keynote address entitled "Challenges facing Chinese Gaokao and development strategy.”
  • Insights from Principals: Mr. Jian Liu (Assistant Director of the Ministry of Education's Development Center for Basic Eduation Curriculum and Textbooks) moderated a panel discussion entitled “Curriculum and Student Cultivation- Chinese Curriculum VS International Curriculum”. The panelists were: Changming Liu,Principal of Beijing No.4 High School; Zhimin Zhang, Principal of Shanghai Gezhi High School; Cuiwei Ye, Principal of Hangzhou No.2 High School.
  • Insights from western AP teachers: Ms. Doris Davis (Ameson Foundation Senior Vice President) hosted a panel discussion with teachers implementing the AP curriculum in China. On the panel were Ameson AP teachers Thomas Donelly (Biology); Enda Farrell (Computer Science); Tao Zhang (AP US History).

Feedback from foreign guests about the presentations

Wendy Holden, Angel Perez and Laurie KoehlerMr. Angel Perez, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Pitzer College: “I really appreciated the last presentation – the teacher panel discussion. I thought it was a very unique opportunity, hearing them talk about the differences in students and differences in the curriculum.”

Mr. Benjamin Gatlin, Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt University: “All of the forum topics were great – they helped me to understand the context and cultural background students come from. I think the Gaokao presentation showed where Chinese culture is headed – moving towards more critical thinking and less content, that’s very important when applying to US schools.”

Guests gleaning insights into the Gaokao exam, presented by Mr. Songhua TanMs. Adele Brumfield, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: “The information will most definitely help me in recruiting Chinese students. It was very enlightening to hear the perspectives of Chinese officials – I am very interested in learning about the reforms to the educational system. I think the most interesting comments were about encouraging students to think, formulate their own ideas, and interpret what they learn. As Director of admissions who is leading a team of people, it’s allowed me to have better insights into what’s going on here in China, some of the potential reforms that are in play, and so I think that will help my understanding and help me guide my team.”

Ms. Patricia Wasyliw is the Assistant Dean of Academic Advising and Admissions in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University: “I was very interested in the issues mentioned – our admissions team appreciates the need for education to adapt to the needs of students.”

Guests en route from their hotel to the College Fair, in downtown BeijingMr. Shawn Felton, Senior Associate Director of Admissions and University Recruitment Coordinator at Cornell University: It has been very informative. I think that Admissions personnel do not adequately understand the social and institutional forces behind the increase in Chinese students, so it was very helpful to gain direct insights into what is happening with Chinese education reforms. While the internet is a great way to facilitate cross-cultural understanding, getting information in person has been quite effective.”

Ms. Deborah Ann Kammerer, Interim Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Yield for the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools at UC San Diego: “I think some things were confirmed for me about the Chinese education system, but it was also very interesting learning more about the reforms. It was a step in the right direction for me personally.

Ms. Laurie Koehler, Dean of Admissions at Bryn Mawr College: The presentations were great. I feel more prepared – the whole environment of high school education was really interesting. I’ve been reading Chinese applications for many years, so this will definitely have an impact on how I approach those in the future.”

Admissions insights: effectively verifying student credentials

On Tuesday Jult 24, the western college officials attended two discussions. First, Ameson Foundation official Nico Xu gave an exclusive sneak-preview of Ameson’s research on the subject of the increasing number of fradulent Chinese applications being received by western universities.

As an expert in the field of Chinese education, the Ameson Foundation has been developing a body of research to help overseas schools better manage student applications from China. During Mr. Xu’s presentation, Ameson Executive Vice Chairman Professor Sean Zhang remarked: “The key point of the research is not simply to identify the issues, but to offer real solutions.”

Immediately after Mr. Xu’s presentation, University of Cambridge Professor Dr. David Anthony Cardwell (Professor of Superconducting Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and one of those responsible for the recruitment of undergraduates from mainland China) held a seminar to explain the benefits of using Ameson assistance to process student applications from China.

Feedback from foreign guests about the presentations

Deborah Ann Kammerer, Interim Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Yield for the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools at UC San Diego: “It was a great opportunity to learn about how Cambridge uses the Ameson system to process student applications. This is something I will take back to my Vice Chancellor, to see if we can form a working partnership as well.”

Mr. Benjamin Gatlin, Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt University: “Dr. Cardwell’s presentation was really insightful. It was really good to hear that from an experienced international recruiter. I hope I can have access to more information from China-experienced admissions people in the future.”

Ms. Zina Evans, Vice President for Enrollment Management at the University of Florida: “The research findings were very eye-opening – I had no idea that cheating had reached such a sophisticated level. So it was great to hear about how Cambridge is using Ameson’s systems – I hope we might be able to work closely with Ameson in the future.”

Ms. Lisa Przekop, Associate Director of Admissions at the University of California, Santa Barbara: I was very surprised to learn about the cheating methods, I found it to be very eye-opening. I thought the Cambridge presentation was very informative, I appreciated hearing how they process Chinese applications using the Ameson system.”

Ms. Wendy Holden, Acting Executive Director of Admissions at the University of Melbourne: “I thought it was great to learn about how Cambridge works with Ameson to process students. English proficiency is an important criteria. If students are not ACEIS-proven, they might need a foundation year, which is not what we’re looking for.”

Western officials sharing their knowledge with Chinese students and counselors

After digesting a huge amount of information about the current conditions of the Chinese educational system, the western educators in turn embarked on two days of sharing their knowledge of the western university system with Chinese counselors and students.

College fair

Dr. Owen Saxton from the University of Cambridge, fielding questions from students – up close and personalOn July 24th and 25th, a college fair was set up in which all of the students attending ACE2012 as well as members of the public were given the opportunity to obtain a wealth of information about college admissions standards and about western colleges in general.

Then on July 25th, the western university officials held a series of workshops. 7 workshops were divided among four rooms. Topics included understanding holistics admissions/simulating the admissions process at an elite university; the value of a liberal arts education; writing an effective letter of recommendation/ secondary school university relations; and understanding admissions and financial aid terminology/ developing an effective high school profile.

According to Ameson Foundation Senior Vice President Doris Davis, the originally independent workshops were combined "because we wanted to maximize their exposue to a topic. So having them in a room with two topics, we were able to get cross the essential information. Counselors could attend two workshops and get informed about four topics.”

Overall feedback by foreign guests

Ms. Anne DeLuca, Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley: I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with students and answer their questions, and also to help Chinese counselors to understand our admission process. The counselors were eager to learn how US admissions works, and we were able to share some insights that should strengthen their outlook. In the best case, it’s good that they have contact with us, and whether it’s me or a member of my staff that reads applications from China, that we have that connection.

Ms. Adele Brumfield, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: I was very impressed with the students, I believe that they are already thinking about options and opportunities, their English is good, even the shy ones have felt comfortable enough to raise a question or participate in some discussions. I was also impressed by their willingness to learn more, especially about a place in the middle of the US, in the state of Wisconsin.

It was definitely beneficial – great to interact with students. In my line of business, you recognize that young people are the same no matter where you are. They have dreams and aspirations, they are looking for a direction, so I am happy to be here.

Ms. Lisa Przekop, Associate Director of Admissions at the University of California, Santa Barbara: The students I have met so far have been incredibly smart. I think they have been extremely well-prepared, and what’s impressed me is that they have done their research – when they come talk to me they have very specific questions, they know exactly what they are looking for. This is very different than American students; Chinese students seem to have done a lot more thinking about what major they want, whereas in the US you find a lot more students who are still undecided. I think US students don’t start doing in-depth research about colleges until a little bit later. It’s a bit more enjoyable because I can tell them more about the major they are interested, what kinds of classes they will be taking. They’re very engaged. It’s been a lot of fun. It was a really nice balance. Workshops were educating us half the time, the rest of the time us educating the students. It’s been a great program.

Ms. Wendy Holden, Acting Executive Director of Admissions at the University of Melbourne: the students are very capable, I have met a few that are outstanding, very motivated. I’d say 80% have very good English.

Ms. Deborah Ann Kammerer, Interim Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Yield for the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools at UC San Diego: Impressed by the questions we’re getting, they seem very focused and they are very interested in knowing exactly what they need to do to be competitive and gain admission. This is my first time to China, it’s been a great trip with very bright well-informed students. It’s good to share with the students experiences of applying to US university, what we’re looking for and how we look at students, I think they are definitely gaining knowledge. The program was very smoothly run.

Ms. Laurie Koehler, Dean of Admissions at Bryn Mawr College: the students speak English really well; they’re really engaged, asking very intelligent questions. My college is a Liberal Arts College for women. It helps that we have a very strong math and science program. From what I have seen from our applicant pool is that there are many students interested in studying philosophy and literature, not just the sciences. The trip has been great, to interact with my colleagues during this trip, not just students, great to share ideas with them, while gaining insights from Ameson.

Conclusion

Ameson Senior VP Doris Davis welcoming Chinese counselors to a series of workshops conducted by the western guests In addition to regularly scheduling cross-cultural information exchanges for the sake of stimulating education reforms, the Ameson Foundation offers a number of services to facilitate the recruiting process – for both Chinese applicants and also for the western schools that recruit them. Proven Ameson recruiting mechanisms include ACEIS, AST and CEIMS.

To learn more about how the Ameson Foundation can help your university improve its China recruiting procedures, please use the contact form to get in touch with one of our representatives.
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