For $1,450 to $7,300, New Oriental Education & Technology Group will help a Chinese student get into college in America. According to the company, that fee covers coaching, school-searching, and “polishing” application essays—and according to its actual workers, it covers straight-up fraud.
Eight former and current New Oriental employees told Reuters last week that New Oriental has written students’ application essays and teacher recommendations, in addition to falsifying entire high-school transcripts; 17 former employees of Dipont, a second Chinese education company, said they did the same. “I know there is an ethical dilemma, but it’s the nature of the industry,” one New Oriental employee admitted. New Oriental alone serves more than two million Chinese students each year and has annual revenues of around $1.5 billion.
Reuters’ report is only the latest in a string of investigations into shady practices at Chinese education companies. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the SAT—the standardized test that most US colleges require applicants to take—was compromised by a massive cheating operation run by several Asian test prep companies.
The whispers of fraud come a time when Chinese students are swarming to the US for college, with the number increasing fivefold over the last decade. International applications overall in that timeframe by comparison only doubled.
The case for removing college applications’ most gameable aspects, it seems, grows stronger yet.