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The Studying Abroad Fever: A Case Study of the Rise of the Middle Class in China and International Education


The economic prosperity and socialist education reform in China have bred a new social group of middle class in recent decades. The Chinese middle class, increasing in economic power and having well-connected social networks now joins the tide of international education by sending their children abroad. This thesis investigates the motivations behind the fervent education investments of the emerging middle class, and discusses the possible implications of this trend for the future of China. Through an extensive literature review of previous works and a qualitative study of Chinese middle class students at UCLA, this thesis concludes that the lower quality of China's higher education, credential inflation in the job market of China, and the international recognition of overseas institutions are the main reasons for the "studying abroad fever". This scenario, as is predicted in the thesis, will contribute to the social reproduction of the middle class families in the future.

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