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China cracks down on Sino-foreign joint programmes

China’s Ministry of Education is tightening legislation on Sino-foreign joint programmes and has revoked the approval of 246 existing programmes and institutions in a bid to better regulate joint ventures, motivated by concern over quality and reputation as the number of programmes has increased dramatically over the last decade.

Hunan University was one of the institutions to have joint programmes cancelled by the Ministry of Education. Image: Maizibusi1988.

All those on the list of cancelled programmes, which was published on the Ministry’s website, are below degree level, demonstrating a desire to better manage joint ventures across all levels of education.

“Institutions should invest their resources in ensuring that their current X + Y programmes are successful”

The new regulations apply to institutions offering joint ‘X + Y’ programmes – such as ‘2 + 2’ degrees whereby students will study for two years in a Chinese university and two in a partner foreign institution.

The regulations will also affect foreign universities who are already offering an approved, degree-level joint programme. Now they cannot apply for a new venture until their current programme has had one class graduate and undergone an inspection by the Ministry of Education.

The new measures have yet to be officially announced, but Kim Morrison, CEO of market intelligence and consulting firm Grok Education Services told The PIE News that the news has been confirmed by multiple sources within and outside the Ministry.

“The MoE is continuing to increase its level of stringency in the approval process for X + Y programmes between Chinese and foreign institutions,” she explained.

She added that universities interested in developing joint programmes would need to consult with provincial authorities, as there has been “some indication” that the process may not apply in all provinces.

“Approved X + Y programmes are difficult to replace because the MoE takes performance into account”

“Moreover, institutions should select their X + Y partners carefully and invest their resources in ensuring that their current X + Y programmes are successful,” she advised.

“Approved X + Y programmes are difficult to replace because the MoE takes into account your performance in managing those X + Y programmes and programme outcome when considering new applications.”

The Ministry also launched a hotline to report issues concerning joint education programmes at the same time as publishing the list of cancelled programmes.

Among the list are language teaching programmes, non-degree accounting and finance courses and vocational education intitiatives, among others.

It includes 68 partnerships between Chinese and Australian providers, as well as 36 Sino-Canadian and 29 Sino-UK initiatives.

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