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US university to accept Gaokao admissions

The University of New Hampshire will be the first flagship US state university to accept the Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Exam, or Gaokao, as its entrance criteria. This news comes with the launch of its Post Gaokao Admission program.

15 students will be in the first cohort on the post Gaokao program at UNH. Photo: UNH

The university will test to ensure students have the required levels of English to study at UNH

Applications will be based on high school transcripts, an English exam administered by UNH and Gaokao scores, which is taken by 97% of Chinese students.

According to the university, the new admission policy is designed to attract outstanding Chinese high school graduates. Students can enrol at UNH without spending time in a pathway program or studying TOEFL, IELTS or other language assessments.

“The University of New Hampshire recognises the level of rigour required for the intensive Gaokao”

Pittsburgh-based WholeRen Group, which provides support services for international students in the US, has partnered with UNH on the program.

“It’s a bold step because this is the first American flagship state university using Gaokao as an entrance criteria,” Andrew Chen, chief learning officer at WholeRen Group, told The PIE News.

There will be two cohorts of students – one in the fourth semester with 15 students and the other in the spring semester with between 100-200 students. UNH’s five colleges and 220 academic majors will be open to post-Gaokao students.

The ministry of education in China also welcomes the move because it wants to see the Gaokao be more recognised globally, Chen said.

UNH has reviewed the test methods, rigor and content of the Chinese Gaokao decided to focus on recruiting outstanding Chinese post-Gaokao students, according to the university.

“The University of New Hampshire recognises the level of rigour required for the intensive Gaokao,” Victoria Dutcher, vice president for enrolment management, said.

“We also have a long tradition at our university of placing more weight on academic performance and subject knowledge than on standardized tests like the SAT,” she added.

“We see this opportunity to welcome post-Gaokao students to the University of New Hampshire as an excellent extension of our admissions priorities to a talented group of students from China.”

US universities have been hesitant to accept Gaokao students in the past due to that fact that decisions are based on result of two days of exams, Chen explained. 

The university must not only fully understand the GK, but they must evaluate their own Chinese expertise and consider their infrastructure in supporting post-GK Chinese students who make a decision to matriculate in a US school,” Chen said.

To ensure students have the required levels of English to study at UNH, tests administered by the university will be available at WholeRen offices in Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing in China.

According to Chen, the only comparable program by a US university is one provided by the University of San Francisco, which admits students based on Gaokao test scores, school record and a one-on-one English interview.

Brown University and NYU encourage Gaokao students to submit their scores, but regular admission requirements still apply.

Universities in Italy, France and Spain have accepted Gaokao scores without a need to take other examinations for a number of years. This has also been common practice at some UK and Australian institutions, often among HEIs that have TNE offerings in China.

The project will be officially launched in China at a news conference in Beijing on June 10. The university added that it is possible other assessment sources will be used in the admissions process.

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