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Chinese enrollment up significantly over last year

The University has seen a significant rise in its number of Chinese undergraduates.

According to Dean of Admission Jim Miller '73, there are 26 Chinese students in the class of 2012, up from just six for the class of 2011 and four for the class of 2010. This number includes only those who are Chinese nationals and covers students from Hong Kong but not from Taiwan.

This increase is a function of a drastic rise in the number of applicants to Brown from China, Miller said. This year, the University received 261 applications from Chinese students, more than five times the number of applicants four years ago.

Students and administrators attribute the rising demand to a number of factors.

First, as part of its recent "internationalization" initiative, the administration has made a concerted effort to increase Brown's connections and reputation abroad in general, according to Vasuki Nesiah, director of international affairs.

"To ensure that Brown students have a more internationalized education, a lot of work has been focused on bringing more international perspectives to the classroom," she said.

Nesiah said that the University has been building relationships with China in particular. In 2006, President Ruth Simmons visited the country and returned vowing to work to create a greater international presence.

This shift has also come as part of a larger trend among Chinese students, many of whom are increasingly choosing to attend college abroad. "There's a growing awareness about American universities among Chinese students," Miller said.

Kening Tan '12, who chose the University for its open curriculum and environmental studies and international relations programs, said that Brown's academic reputation and prestige may be a factor for many students. "Our parents always want us to go to a top college," Tan said. "All the Ivy League colleges are attractive because they're famous and the education has a worldwide reputation."

Nesiah echoed these sentiments, saying that Brown's strong reputation likely contributes to the interest in China.

Economic factors may be at play as well, as Chinese students find it easier to pay for an American education.

Miller said the growth of China's middle class has made attending college abroad an option for more families. "As the economy matures, there are more families in China who are able to pay," he said.

Chinese students also cited their financial aid packages as a large part of their decision to attend. According to Tan, American schools in general tend to have a reputation for offering hefty financial aid packages to Chinese students, many of whom cannot afford full tuition costs of attending schools abroad.

Jo Jo Fang '11 said that she was admitted to three similar schools in the U.S. and ultimately chose Brown largely because of the package she was offered.

Regardless of their specific reasons for coming here, Chinese students are finding their community far from home.

Tan said that this year's Chinese first-years are very close. "Because we are all from China, it's easier for us to become very good friends. You can see them as your family in another country."

The University has helped facilitate community-building, holding pre-Orientation gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai for students, in addition to its International Mentoring Program.

With this change in demographics at Brown, some cultural organizations are changing too. Julia Chiang '09, president of the Chinese Students Association, said that several Chinese students have joined the group, which, in past years, consisted mostly of Chinese-Americans. "I think it has added a lot of diversity to the CSA. It's good to get different perspectives from people." In the future, Chiang said, the club may "try to cater more to people who are actually from China" by holding more cultural events.


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