ETS Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the TOEFL® and GRE® Tests Entering China in Beijing with Symposium
The symposium focused on international education exchange, innovation and the release of the "TOEFL China 40 People in 40 Years" list

BEIJING (Oct. 23, 2021) – Today ETS hosted a symposium in Beijing in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the TOEFL® and GRE® tests in China. Leaders and representatives from the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges of the Ministry of Education (MOE), the National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA), the Beijing Education Examinations Authority, ETS and other organizations attended the seminar. The “TOEFL China 40 People in 40 Years” list released by ETS was also unveiled during the meeting.

In 1981, with the approval of then Vice Premier Fang Yi, ETS signed an agreement with the MOE which made TOEFL the first international standardized language test to be introduced to the Chinese Mainland. The GRE General Test was also introduced to China in the same year. It not only signaled a new era of international talent exchange under China’s reform and opening up, but also gradually became synonymous with studying abroad. Over the past 40 years, millions of Chinese students have utilized the TOEFL and GRE tests on their journeys to the outside world, becoming an important part of the academic and cultural exchanges between China and abroad, and enabling China’s fast and profound integration into the global community. Together with policymakers, industry leaders and academic experts, the symposium focused on the development of the TOEFL and GRE tests in China over the past four decades, and discussed the development of international talent and education, as well as the role of English language learning and assessment and higher education in promoting cross-cultural communication and understanding in the new era.

Xu Yongji, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges of MOE, addressed the audience. “In 1981, the TOEFL and GRE tests entered China and opened up a new era of China-foreign cooperation in organizing educational examinations. Today, the two tests have already become household names, and the ‘TOEFL story’ of millions of international students has become the best testament to such collaboration. It shows that China-U.S. exchanges are mutually beneficial with lasting momentum and strong resilience. We expect ETS to contribute more in the future.”

Xu Yongji, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation and Exchange, MOE

Sun Haibo, Director of the NEEA, reviewed the cooperation between NEEA and ETS during the past 40 years and the development of TOEFL and GRE tests in China at the symposium. Haibo said, “The development of TOEFL and GRE tests in China over the past four decades has always followed the pace of the country’s reform and opening up, and ETS was the first organization to conduct overseas tests in China. Over the past 40 years we have worked together with ETS, which has established a good reputation for the TOEFL and GRE in China to ensure academic opportunities for Chinese test students. We have strengthened communication especially in the past 10 years and worked closely to maintain the fairness and integrity of these tests, which has been widely praised by the society.”

Sun Haibo, Director of the NEEA, giving a speech via video

Li Shizhu, Director of the Beijing Education Examinations Authority (BJEEA), said in his speech, “ETS has been a partner of BJEEA for many years, and ETS’s experience in test items development and test organization has important reference significance. The two sides have broad room for future cooperation in developing intelligent evaluation tools, exploring intelligent test items and test paper making, and strengthening test security. I am full of confidence and expectations for the cooperation between BJEEA and ETS.”

Walt MacDonald, President and CEO of ETS, shared that he had the honor to witness firsthand the development of ETS in China over the past 40 years. In his speech, MacDonald talked about the international education exchange and cooperation and its potential to connect people across countries. “International study is a priceless way for people everywhere to learn about, and from, people everywhere, for the ultimate benefit of people everywhere,” he said. “As the world’s largest private, nonprofit assessment, research and learning organization, ETS is committed to advancing quality and equity in education worldwide. For 40 years, Chinese students have been an important part of this commitment and mission. It is our hope and expectation that they will continue to be a very important part for the next 40 years and beyond.”

As an important part of the event, the “TOEFL China 40 People in 40 Years” list recognizes 40 representative international students and figures who have made outstanding contributions to the development of international exchange and education over the past 40 years. People who made it to the list include: Cao Weixing, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League and former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources; Fu Chengyu, former Party Secretary and Chairman of the Sinopec Group; Gao Xiqing, former Vice Chariman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and adjunct professor at the University of international Business and Economics (UIBE) Law School; Li Yansong, President of the Shanghai International Studies University; Shao Feng, Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Deputy Director of the National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing (NIBS); Shi Yigong, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and President of Westlake University; Wang Huiyao, Founder and President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and counselor of the State Council; Xiong Sidong, president of Soochow University; Yang Lan, Chairperson of the Sun Media Group, and Yu Minhong, founder and chairman of New Oriental Education and Technology Group.

Liu Limin, President of CEAIE, presented awards to representatives of “TOEFL China 40 People in 40 Years” list at the ceremony. Cao Weixing, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League and former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Wang Huiyao, founder and President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and counselor of the State Council, Wang Guangfa, founder of Fazheng International Education and head master of Beijing Royal School, Shi Yigong, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and President of Westlake University and Xu Xiaoping, cofounder of ZhenFund delivered speeches as winner representatives, and shared experiences of taking the TOEFL and GRE exams and their personal development after returning home from studying abroad, inspiring young people to take up the baton and continue to forge ahead.

Liu Limin, President of CEAIE, presented awards to the winners of the “TOEFL China 40 People in 40 Years” list

Miranda Wang, Managing Director of ETS China said, “forty years ago, the TOEFL and GRE tests set up a bridge connecting China to the world, allowing Chinese students to go abroad, return to serve China after their studies and make outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Today, ETS has gone through 40 years in China from scratch, and from being international to local. In the next 40 years and beyond, ETS will continue to be based in China, to serve China, accompany and support the transformation and upgrading of Chinese education and its new journey to grow internationally!”

Miranda Wang, Managing Director of ETS China, giving a speech

A number of guests shared their views on education innovation and internationalization through keynote speeches: Joanna Gorin, Vice President of Research at ETS, shared the innovative development of ETS in the field of education; Liu Jianda, Vice President of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, shared the innovative development of internationalization of higher education; Zhu Wangbei, Vice President of Beijing Bayi School, shared his insights on cultivating a new generation of young people with a sense of home and country. The world’s leading universities and educators also expressed their congratulations on the achievements of the TOEFL and GRE exams over the past 40 years in China through video.

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About ETS

At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, and by conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series® assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.