Sign up

Have some pie!

China: new rules for int’l students include customs and language classes

China has announced new measures for universities on the management of international students studying in the country, which include increasing the presence of Chinese culture, customs and language into their curriculum.

XJTLU (pictured). Youmin Xi, executive president of XJTLU, said that the changes "would benefit the career development and life of foreign students who are studying [at a] Chinese university.” Photo: wikicommons/Goyah.

Last year, 442,773 international students studied in China

Outlined this month, and to be implemented on July 1, the regulations are intended to give universities guidelines in enrolling and handling students as the country moves full throttle towards its target to enrol half a million international students by 2020.

“Chinese [language] and China’s overview should be made as a compulsory course for higher education,” the document, jointly produced by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security, reads.

“Political theory should be made a compulsory course for those international students who study philosophy and political science.”

“These seem like reasonable changes given the government’s ambitions”

It also states that colleges and universities shall educate international students on the contents of Chinese laws and regulations, school rules, Chinese traditional culture and customs, “and help them to become familiar with and adapt to the learning and living environment as soon as possible.”

The regulations also emphasise that Chinese is the first language for higher education institutions in the country, and institutions can provide extra classes for international students who don’t meet a certain requirement.

International students can write their thesis in the foreign language under which they are studying, the guidelines stipulate, but the abstract is required in Chinese.

Kim Morrison, CEO and executive director at Grok Global Services, an education and market entry consultancy company, said, overall, the new rules are general enough to give “more power to higher education institutions in student recruitment, what programs they offer and admissions processes.”

“These seem like reasonable changes given the government’s ambitions,” she added.

Eric Skuse, research manager at market intelligence company Emerging Strategy, said the intention behind these rules is to standardise the many programs that have arisen to serve the demand from international students.

“A baseline requirement for Chinese language instruction makes sense, but it is something that many programs already have in place,” he said.

“There may be outliers that didn’t previously require Chinese language classes, and these programs will have to change or shutter their doors to international students. In the eyes of China’s central government, this type of quality control is a good thing.”

Universities will also be required to set up international student counsellors.

Youmin Xi, executive president of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China said that the required content “would benefit the career development and life of foreign students who are studying [at a] Chinese university.”

Xi noted, however, that although the regulations were implemented as the country welcomes more international students, they would have weak support systems and regulations.

“The main purpose of issuing the new regulations from my understanding is to improve current operational systems and policies according to related Chinese laws,” he said.

Observers do expect the guidelines to improve the perception of China overseas, however.

“Having foreign students come away from their semester in China with a firm grasp of the language and a strong familiarity with cultural traditions delivered through mandatory coursework is an attractive idea to a central government keen to increase its soft power abroad,” said Skuse.

The country is well on its way of achieving its goal of hosting 500,000 international students by 2020. Last year, 442,773 international students studied in China – an 11% growth on the year before. Korea was the top-sending country, followed by the US and Thailand.

Morrison at Grok said it is unlikely there will be an effect on the number of incoming international students as a result of these new rules.

“The main purpose of issuing the new regulations… is to improve current operational systems and policies according to related Chinese laws”

“The government is not interested in making life more restrictive or difficult for international students,” she said.

“Remember, while China is trying to attract students from developed Western countries, these regulations are just as much for international students from Africa, South America and Asia. These markets are very important for China, both for the income international students bring and long-term economic ties in those areas.

“Students from these areas aren’t going to see the regulations as any more restrictive than what they would face when applying to, for example, UK, USA or Australia,” she commented.

In addition to the new guidelines released this month, China has recently taken steps to ease access to post-study work for international graduates.

Still looking? Find by category:

Add your comment

One Response to China: new rules for int’l students include customs and language classes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: All user contributions posted on this site are those of the user ONLY and NOT those of The PIE Ltd or its associated trademarks, websites and services. The PIE Ltd does not necessarily endorse, support, sanction, encourage, verify or agree with any comments, opinions or statements or other content provided by users.

To receive The PIE Weekly with our top stories and insights, and other updates from us, please