US schools still draw Chinese

Updated: 2014-04-16 11:32

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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As an increasing number of private high schools in the United States vie for Chinese students, a for-profit academy in Wisconsin has noticed the huge economic footprint of these international students and plans to invest as much as $2.7 million on converting a hotel into new dormitory for them.

Wisconsin International Academy Inc purchased abudget hotelwith 127-rooms, a restaurant and banquet center from the Greenfield-based Wauwatosa Hotel Group.

Matt Gibson, the academy's principal, told local media the academy expects to have 150 students at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, and the new facility will house 20 to 30 students for a summer program.

With the closure of the restaurant and banquet center earlier this week, construction is expected to begin next month, he said.

It aims to provide dormitory and shuttle service for Chinese students in four local high schools, including Pius XI, Dominican, Martin Luther, Catholic Memorial and St Thomas More high schools, he said.

City officials have approved the planned facility, which will house a capacity of 200 students. The dormitory will have a dining hall, basketball court and outdoor recreational area. Study areas are also proposed.

The report also said 90 academy students are currently living in hotel rooms leased at another budget hotel in the region.

In order to get an edge on the stiff competition for international students nationwide, some universities are also investing in better dormitories and facilities.

Last autumn, UC-Davis spent $7.9 million on updating its 16,000-square-foot Cuarto Dining Commons, and a current construction project Tercero North is set to kick off in the fall of 2014.

The new facility will provide about 1,200 beds at a construction cost of $88 million, according to a UC-Davis spokesman Andy Fell.

Though Fell emphasized the dorms were an alternative for all first-year and transfer students, local media indicated the target consumers were mainly Chinese students who had financial support from their parents.

According to aquarterly reportof the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as of January 15, some 287,260 Chinese students held active US student visas and Chinese students accounted for 29 percent of all foreign students studying in the United States, which is more than the number of students fromEurope,South America, Africa, Australia and elsewhere in North America combined.

In 1997, China only accounted for 4 percent of student-visa recipients, and the country sent about 20 percent the number of students to theUnited States that Europe did.

"Since family income is increasing, spending money for a US degree is not a difficult thing for mushrooming middle class families in today's China," Zhang Meng, a Beijing-based overseas study agency manager, told China Daily.

More rich families are approaching the agency for sending their kids to private high school in the United States, and the younger customers bring it more business, he said.

According to consulting firm Zinch, 62 percent of interviewed participants from China are able to spend at least $40,000 a year on a college education.

(China Daily USA 04/16/2014 page3)