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Cablegate: Consulate Guangzhou Steps Up Student Outreach

VZCZCXRO2446
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0652 3340650
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300650Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1130
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0906
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0295
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0305
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0296
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0362
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0269
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0364
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 0024
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC 0101

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000652

STATE FOR CA/VO, CA/FPP, EAP/CM, EAP/PD and ECA
BEIJING FOR DCM, CONS AND PAS
STATE PASS DEPT OF EDUCATION

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CH
SUBJECT: CONSULATE GUANGZHOU STEPS UP STUDENT OUTREACH

REF: A) Guangzhou 631 B) Guangzhou 578

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ConGen Guangzhou continues to bolster its student
outreach efforts as its F-1 student visa refusal rate --
historically the highest among China posts -- drops incrementally
year over year. In 2009, Guangzhou refused 28% of student visa
applicants, a large drop compared to 38% in 2008 and 43% in 2007.
Meanwhile, the number of F-1 visa applications has nearly doubled to
14,000 over the past two years. Demand for student visas seems
insatiable. This was reflected at a recent student outreach event
held by Guangzhou NIV and Public Affairs sections to commemorate
International Education Week. It drew a standing-room only crowd of
students eager to learn about studying in the U.S. and the visa
application process. Post hopes its continued outreach efforts will
yield better informed and prepared student applicants while also
making inroads on the Chinese public's yawning perception gap
between actual issuance and mistakenly surmised refusal rates. END
OF SUMMARY

2. (U) ConGen Guangzhou has stepped up its student visa outreach
activities in response to a recent influx of new F-1 visa
applications. At least once or twice a month, officers from NIV and
PAS sections meet hundreds of prospective student visa applicants
through education expos held by consultancies that help U.S.
universities recruit in China. There is consistently a long line of
aspiring students whose parents make middle-class income but have
saved tens of thousands of dollars to send their child to study in
the U.S. A recent FPU site visit to the historically fraud-prone
province of Fujian revealed that even families who live in modest to
poor conditions have saved large sums of money to send their child
to the U.S. to study. As noted in ref A, post is indeed finding a
growing pool of qualified student applicants in the consular
district.

3. (U) During International Education Week, the NIV Unit hosted an
outreach activity, drawing nearly 100 English-speaking college and
high school students. They packed into the PAS multipurpose room to
listen to presentations about what American admissions officers look
for in college applications and what consular officers look for in a
student visa interview. This new generation of Chinese students is
likely to help push the number of annual student visa issuances in
Mission China past 100,000 in FY 2010. In FY 2009, Mission China
issued 81,686 student visas. Open Doors 2009 reported recently that
Chinese student enrollment in the U.S. increased 21% to 98,510.

4. (U) In Guangzhou's four province south China consular district,
one of the wealthiest in China, the growing Chinese middle class
includes the rising ranks of qualified student visa applicants.
However, fraud remains problematic in a district that has
historically experienced intense overseas migration. Post continues
to see some qualified student applicants who still feel the need to
make fraudulent claims, for example, about their parent's income.
However, in 2007, post conducted a validation study, which found
that only 4% of student visas issued were out-of-status, thus
confirming the accuracy of student visa adjudications by consular
officers. Since then, the number of student visa issuances has
doubled. With a higher volume of visa issuances, post plans to
conduct a validation study again to review student status and visa
adjudication criteria.

5. (U) COMMENT: In response to the growing interest in student visas
in Guangzhou, post will begin to host a monthly outreach event
similar to the one hosted during International Education Week. NIV
and PAS expect to draw more than 100 different students every time.
This initiative will be in addition to post's regular participation
in local education conferences as well as its broader consular
public outreach efforts covering business travel, tourism, etc. End
comment.

GOLDBECK

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