A wealthy Chinese family reportedly spent nearly $ 6.5 million to ensure that their daughter was admitted to Stanford University. This event is the simple illustration that the Chinese are ready to spend a lot of money on the education of their children.

The parents of a Chinese student admitted paying $ 6.5 million to William Singer for a place at Stanford University. This story is part of a big scandal of corruption. This wine-making system made it easier for children from well-to-do families to return to the most prestigious universities, and the Chinese would have benefited from the system.


Education in China

In China, education is a very important factor for “.面子” mianzi or « the face culture ». The culture of mianzi is based on the reputation, or the image of a person and/or a family. For modest families, education is an opportunity for children to climb the social ladder. For the wealthiest families, education is a way of confirming their status and reputation in the eyes of their peers. This is especially true when the child is admitted to the most prestigious American universities.

No wonder the wealthiest families are willing to spend millions of dollars to secure a place in these universities whose admissions process is often very strict.


Stanford University Campus in the US 

Operation Varsity Blue

Since March 2019, corruption cases related to the admissions of the most prestigious American universities have been revealed to the general public. These scandals were grouped under the name of « Operation Varsity Blue » by the American media.

At the heart of the controversy: huge sums have been paid to William Rick Singer to facilitate entry into these universities. Singer is the former boss of “The Key” an exam preparation company and is also the head of the « Key Worldwide Foundation », the charity organization associated with The Key. Singer has developed a well-honed system of cheating on official entrance exams (SAT and ACT in particular) and corruption of university sports coach. With this method, Singer would have received more than $ 25 million between 2011 and 2018.



If American actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin, and many businessmen have been singled out, more recently, it is the mother of Yusi Zhao, a young Chinese student who is pushed to the front of the stage. Ms. Zhao reportedly paid almost $ 6.5 million for a pass to Stanford University admissions. The premise was to qualify potential students as athletes even if they had never practiced any sports. If this method has been put in place, it is because the sports practice is highly valued by American universities during the admissions process.

Ms. Zhao defends her innocence and says she was fooled by Singer, she confirms that she thought she was paying this sum to help develop the school’s scholarship programs as well as to pay the salaries of university professors.


William Rick Singer – Former head of The Key – CEO of Key Worldwide Foundation


Stanford said it had no knowledge of the situation and was in no way involved in this scandal. The university would not have received the smallest amount of Ms. Zhao’s 6.5 million US dollars.

American universities being so popular, the case of Mrs. Zhao and her daughter is far from isolated. In Operation Varsity Blue, another Chinese family has just been reported for using the services of Mr. Singer for nearly $ 1.2 million as part of integration at the University of Yale.

William Singer pleaded guilty to his involvement in corruption in university admission systems, coach John Vandemoe also pleads guilty of complicity with Singer. In addition, Yusi Zhao is dismissed from Stanford, the American University said: “We determined that certain elements of the student’s application were false and that, according to our rules, the admission was canceled.”

If William Singer is convicted, this does not detract from the attitude of wealthy Chinese families desperate to get their children into the best universities in the world. In addition, these students from wealthy families represent a significant source of income for universities.

The rich Chinese parents are ready to do anything to give a good education to their child. See also: The Education Market in China – A Lucrative Market


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