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


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  1. I am passionate about online maths teaching since 1998, and look for helping parents who are willing to educate their children (in French) to succeed in Maths and be able to enter the school they want for their children.

    I think about expatriated families (From France, because they follow the French educational system) and want to enter in contact with them.

    How to find them and communicate with them?

  2. Hello Syrine, I’m the director assistant in a US school and we are currently looking for new ways to attract Chinese students in our school form next scholar year.
    Our school is well ranked in our state, welcoming tens of thousands of students every year with campus and also hundreds of foreign students. Chinese students are warmly welcomed and we even have a Chinese advisor to help them if needed.

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