Students in China are well-motivated but often have to overcome educational obstacles not faced by their counterparts in the United States, say a group of American academics teaching on the mainland. The group was in Guangzhou recently for the United States Fulbright Lecturer Spring Orientation and Mid-Year Conference organised by the Hong Kong America Centre. Gerald Rosenberg, a law professor from the University of Chicago who is now based at Xiamen University, said he was initially surprised by the widespread problem of plagiarism and cheating on campus. But he developed a sympathetic view of the reasons behind it. 'I have come to understand that the issue is the education system here that says getting the right answer is more important than the thinking that goes into it,' he said. Professor Rosenberg also said there was little emphasis on critical thinking in the Chinese education system. 'Critical argument is what intellectual life is about, which is not well-developed at all in China,' he said. Access to full information was necessary, Professor Rosenberg said, for scholars in China to make serious contributions to the global intellectual scene. Peter Trubowitz, from Texas, who is teaching at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, said: 'Chinese institutions vary in being either research or teaching-oriented. But at the post-graduate level, a research culture does not seem to be as well-developed here as in the US. There is a sense among faculty and students that there should be more of that culture. But the fundamental problem is the lack of access to information.' Florida Gulf Coast University finance professor Daniel Borgia said teaching in classrooms where seats were bolted to the floor was not the best setting for small group discussions. 'The traditional method of teaching here is mainly by lecturing. There is little interaction.' But he found his students at Nanjing University, like many taught by other Fulbright scholars, motivated but overworked. The scholars said their mainland experience had been rewarding but admitted they had to make adjustments for their different culture and training backgrounds. The Fulbright Programme, funded by the US government, arranges the exchange of scholars and students between the US and countries worldwide. It was started in China in the 1940s but stopped after the communist victory. This year, there are 20 American lecturers on the mainland programme, either for one year or one term. About 40 Fulbright researchers in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan gathered this week for a research forum at Baptist University.