Profile: The VCE in China
In an Australian first, Victoria’s certificate of education is being offered in China – allowing Victorian schools to establish profitable international partnerships with Chinese schools to roll out the programme, writes Sophie Loras.
“A bridge to cooperation” was how Shanghai Ganquan Foreign Language Principal Liu Guohua described the opening of the Haileybury – Ivanhoe International VCE Centre in Shanghai’s Putuo district in September.
The landmark centre is the joint collaboration between two Victorian schools with the backing of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to further introduce the Victorian Certificate of Education to China.
“As an international school in China, we have a lot of choices including the VCE,” said Principal Liu. “We need more choices and the VCE is one of those which we like.”
The Shanghai school is the latest Chinese middle school to have joined a consortium of schools in Xi’an, Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Ningbo, Qingdao and Jiangyan to offer its Chinese students a Victorian Certificate of Education through a programme offered by Victorian school, Haileybury as a pathway to entry to Australian and overseas universities.
Haileybury has been at the forefront of offering the VCE in China since 2002, and has been responsible for pioneering one of two models supported by the VCAA whereby Victorian teachers mentor their Chinese counterparts in the application of the years 11 and 12 VCE program.
While there is a financial incentive for the Australian schools to offer the programme in China, schools such as Haileybury, say offering the VCE overseas is much more about being able to market their own school as “international”.
“We wanted to internationalise our own school,” says Haileybury Vice Principal Dr Nicholas Dwyer.
“If these kids want to be international, they have to be in an international school.”
The internationalisation of China’s education sector has played a key role in Chinese government policy since 2000, when Chinese schools were encouraged to begin looking at ways to open up to the West, improve their levels of English language teaching and increase links with other international schools.
Ivanhoe Grammar School is the latest Victorian school to establish relationships with two Chinese schools in Kunming and Zhengzhou to offer the VCE in China.
Ivanhoe hopes to have six to 10 schools in China through the medium-term, in line with internationalizing the school’s outlook.
“Our goal [in offering the VCE in China] is not a financial goal, but to extend the international reach of the school,” says Ivanhoe Grammar School Deputy Principal, Gerard Foley.
“We are a national school with an international outlook.”
Under the Haileybury model, the school trains teachers from its partner schools to deliver the VCE alongside the Chinese High School Certificate. This includes an exchange programme for both the Australian and Chinese teachers to visit each other’s schools and weekly mentoring for the Chinese teachers upon their return to China. Delivery and quality assurance is overseen by the VCAA.
The VCAA currently licenses 14 schools in China to deliver the VCE.
• TEDA International School, Tianjin
• Li Hui Li High School, Ningbo
• Qingdao Number 19 High School
• Nanjing Foreign Language School, Xianlin Campus
• Shude High School, Chengdu
• Wuhan Foreign Language School
• Suzhou International Foreign Language School
• Wenzhou No 21 School
• Beijing Foreign Language School
• Lianyungang Foreign Language School
• Haixi Zhengxing International School, Zhangzhou
• Zhengzhou YIBA United International School
• Kunming Middle School
• Jiang Yan No 2 Middle School
Under the system, the VCAA each year, sends senior VCAA officers to the Chinese schools to audit facilities, review the delivery of the VCE program and examine security.
Figures from the VCAA show that over the past nine years, 2143 Chinese VCE graduates have gone on to study in universities around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, UK and Europe.
The VCAA says Chinese students studying the VCE in China develop a high level of fluency in English language (with an average IELTS level of 6 – 7), allowing them a recognised qualification for entry to international and Australian universities and other tertiary institutions to pursue further studies, while also
developing a greater understanding of Western education systems and culture.
The biggest advantage for Chinese students undertaking the course, is they do not have to relocate offshore to obtain the VCE. But the good news for Australia’s international education sector, is many of these Chinese students go on to accept placements at Australian universities.
VCAA figures show that more than 80 percent of Chinese VCE graduates have subsequently chosen to continue their studies at Victorian tertiary institutions.
The benefits for Australian schools include promoting and enhancing their reputation internationally, creating cross-cultural links and providing professional development opportunities for teachers from both countries.
Based on the current growth rate, the VCAA hopes to see more than 50 schools delivering the VCE in China by 2015. ■
The VCAA has been delivering international education programs since 1999.
The VCAA currently delivers education programs in China, the Middle East, South Africa and Vanuatu.
The VCAA has been delivering the VCE in China (its biggest market) since 2003.