(SCMP) No students from mainland Chinese schools have been admitted to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through its early admission programme this year, intensifying concerns that candidates are facing growing difficulty in entering the United States’ best universities.
The news epitomised the falling success rate of mainland Chinese students seeking places at top US colleges in recent years amid growing uncertainty about immigration and visa policies, and the increased importance placed on applicants’ soft skills, some industry insiders have said.
The MIT offered early admission to more than 700 students chosen from 9,600 applicants from around the world. While five of them were Chinese nationals, they all graduated from US high schools.
“This is in line with the overall trend,” said Sun Rui, founder of Insight Education, a company based in the south China city of Shenzhen that helps Chinese students apply for undergraduate programmes in the United States.
“We feel that it’s harder each year to apply for top universities,” she said.
The number of students from Shenzhen who secured a place at one of the top four colleges in the US had been falling year by year, she said.
“Last year, a couple of students from Shenzhen made it to Stanford. This year it was none.”
While Chinese students had a reputation for getting high exam scores, Sun said they were often at a disadvantage when it came to soft skills, such as leadership and citizenship.
Chinese schools did not care about the latter, but American schools valued them greatly, she said.