China’s laborious college entrance exam might be chasing students out of the country, reports the Financial Times.

Many students have been disheartened by the gaokao college entrance exam, as shown in the dwindling number of examinees to 9.15 million from 10.5 million in 2008. The Chinese Education Ministry says it is due in part to the trend of studying abroad, which accounts for 20% of the decline. Chinese parents, who have gone through the same exam, are discontented with the gaokao. “I went through it, I know what gaokao is about: you waste too much time on fruitless things,” Mao Ruoqing told FT. Mao sent his daughter to study near Philadelphia, in the US.

It’s not only that the gaokao is too hard, but parents began considering a broader path for their children to take. More parents want their children to study overseas as early as kindergarten so they can “quickly adapt to the life and culture” that could get them into better universities. Parents also believe that overseas education guarantees a good job. The ministry said there were 340,000 Chinese students abroad last year.

The shift also underlines that more Chinese families are emigrating, particularly from the upper middle classes. According to FT, the population of Chinese immigrants in Australia surpassed those from the UK.