CULTURE Cambridge says accepting Chinese gaokao scores isn't new

CULTURE

Cambridge says accepting Chinese gaokao scores isn't new

By Zhao Zhengyu and Xiao Xuetong | People's Daily app

16:41, March 25, 2019

Cambridge University said on Monday that acknowledging Chinese students’ gaokao (College Entrance Exam in China) scores is nothing new since it has been implemented for several years. It further claims that gaokao scores are not the only standard for assessment, as it looks at the students’ overall performance.

The response was triggered by a heated online discussion as Cambridge reportedly became the sixth UK university to recognize gaokao scores. 

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(Photo: screenshot of the application page of Cambridge University)

Zhishifenzi, an influential we-media dedicated to spreading scientific knowledge, revealed that Cambridge’s acceptance of gaokao scores dates back to at least five years ago. It was clearly stated in Cambridge’s enrollment brochure for Chinese students in 2015. 

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(Photo: screenshot of Zhishifenzi’s Weibo)

More Western universities have been accepting gaokao scores. According to the Economist, Australia took the lead in 2012, with nearly 30 universities, including seven members of the prestigious “Group of Eight”, introducing gaokao scores into the evaluation system. 

Some universities in Canada, Italy, the United States and other countries also welcome gaokao scores. Last year, the University of New Hampshire became the first public US university to accept gaokao scores, keeping pace with many private American colleges like New York University.

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(Photo: Cambridge University's flickr)

Many Western universities are becoming increasingly dependent on revenue from international students. Previously, for Chinese students, applying for undergraduate programs abroad usually meant giving up gaokao which requires years of undistracted preparation. The possibility to fail in the application and lose the chance to receive a domestic education at the same time made students and their parents think twice. As more universities worldwide accept gaokao scores, Chinese students can be more flexible in choosing their dream school, and foreign universities may be given more priority. 

Often described as “thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of horses across a single-log bridge”, gaokao has some merits that are gradually acknowledged by overseas schools. It provides relatively fair opportunities for students from all walks of life and backgrounds, especially those from impoverished areas, to get into colleges solely based on their scores.

Most importantly, gaokao can be helpful in evaluating applicants because it also assesses other characteristics of students besides academic performance, including self-discipline and psychological quality to work under huge pressure. 9.75 million students registered for gaokao last year. Those who stand out in such a fierce competition are believed to be competitive in universities as well.

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Students who finished their first subject of the College Entrance Exam leave the campus, June 7, 2017(Photo: VCG)

Despite the acceptance of gaokao scores by more schools, studying abroad still requires painstaking effort, especially as language and social practices remain the weakness of Chinese students. 

The Chinese government is further promoting the internationalization of education. Research on cut scores released by China's Ministry of Education to link China's Standards of English Language Ability (CSE) to IELTS and Aptis earlier this year serves as pioneering work.

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