Chinese people are very brand conscious.
I could provide dozens, if not hundreds, of links on their luxury (and non-luxury) consumer goods purchasing habits to back up that statement.
Universities in the West have the strongest brands. Harvard, Cambridge and Princeton are stronger brands than Peking University. Yale is a better brand than Fudan University.
Chinese people are not the only ones who care about brands when it comes to schooling. Americans do too. For instance, I paid 180k+ USD on a BA at Harvard instead of a free ride at BU and then later in my life 270k+ USD (and much, much more in forgone earnings for being in school 3 years rather than working) for a JD at Columbia instead of NYU.
Of course, there are other reasons (e.g., networking, exposure to new cultures/perspectives as Geir Bækholt mentions), but brand and reputation (e.g., the ability to impress new acquaintances, give relatives something to brag about, and to land first round interviews or prospective client meetings based on where you went to school) are the biggest reasons Chinese want a Western school on their CV.
It's not a bad reason.
Dave Cheng, I was made here.
Source: Quora Digest