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More students stretch their wings for overseas study

2009-06-04 10:46 BJT

While her classmates are toiling away in preparation for the cutthroat college entrance exam, Chen Ruqian is sitting idly at home. Bored.

The 18-year-old from the famous Shanghai Foreign Language School was offered a full scholarship from Amherst College in the US last December, thanks to her outstanding academic performance and participation in community work.

"The entrance exam is so horrible and I feel so lucky I escaped that," Chen said.

"All the best students in our school go for American universities."

Last year, among the nearly 300 graduates at the school, 80 were accepted by American universities and 40 others are headed to the United Kingdom, she said.

About 180,000 Chinese students went to overseas universities last year, nearly half of them high school students.

"Now my school has to combine two classes into one due to fewer students for the exam," she added.

In big cities across the country, famous local high schools have seen an increasing number of students head abroad, either for a better education or simply to avoid the make-or-break entrance exam.

Scheduled for June 7 and 8, the exam is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most Chinese students.

Because of limited admissions to the country's universities, the fierce competition has been described as "an army of soldiers trying to cross a thin log over a river".