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UPDATED: February 27, 2012 NO. 9 MARCH 1, 2012
Foreign Education, Chinese Dream
Chinese young people seek to study abroad and work back in China
By Yu Yan

WELCOME ABROAD: A representative of a U.S. college's admission office introduces his college to Chinese parents at an education exhibition in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, on February 20 (XINHUA)

On February 14, 2012, Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced that in 2011 the number of candidates taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in China increased nearly 19 percent compared with that of 2010 and that the organization plans to further expand this figure in China in 2012.

"I started to apply for study in the United States in 2002. At that time, almost all top undergraduate students in our university wanted to study abroad for a graduate degree," said Zhou Ye, Investment Director of Softbank China Venture Capital (SBCVC), a leading venture capital firm headquartered in Singapore and Hong Kong. Zhou got high marks in both TOEFL and GRE tests.

"Studying abroad can broaden our horizons. And it can give us a fast-track in our careers, in terms of both academics and career development opportunities," said Zhou.

Zhou was a top student from Tsinghua University in Beijing. After graduating from the university with a bachelor's degree in electronic engineering in 2003, he successfully entered the University of California, Berkeley for a Ph.D. degree program in the Electronic Engineering and Computer Science Department with a full scholarship. Zhou had some internship experiences and an Internet start-up experience during his Ph.D. years in the United States. After getting his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 2008, he came back to work in Shanghai, the city where he was born.

He started as a management consultant in the Shanghai Office of McKinsey & Company, the world's leading management consulting firm. And in 2011, he went to SBCVC and became an investment director.

Zhou's career track is one that many Chinese young people have been seeking. As he sees it, his success largely owes to his educational background and experience abroad.

"The experience in the United States not only enhanced my academic background, but also improved my problem-solving and communication skills," said Zhou.

The laboratory equipment and research environment in Chinese universities are poor compared to those in developed countries.

It was almost impossible for an electrical engineering postgraduate student in China to get his academic paper published in the world's top academic journals such as Science and Nature.

But once he had the opportunity to do research in top-tier laboratories like those of the University of California, Berkeley, it was much easier, said Zhou.

While studying abroad, he learned how to work in a global team. His colleagues were all young people from all across the world and with different cultural backgrounds. It was a very precious experience to work, communicate and cooperate with them, said Zhou.

The overseas experience also made him realize there were other lifestyles and values in the world.

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