Peking, Tsinghua, Renmin and Shanghai Jiao Tong universities will now no longer require non-Chinese candidates to sit their entrance exams. Some have replaced the exam with an online interview, and language and qualification requirements still stand.
“The school will conduct remote interviews for candidates who meet the requirements for application”
“In order to protect the health of the majority of candidates…the school decided to cancel the written examination link for the 2020 undergraduate entrance examination program for international students,” Peking University wrote on its website.
“The school will conduct remote interviews for candidates who meet the requirements for application.”
However, the move has brought the argument surrounding the preferential treatment of international students at Chinese universities to the fore.
Accusations have been made that “10 years of hard study is nothing compared to a foreign passport” – a slogan that first surfaced in 2017 when Tsinghua tried to scrap exams for foreign entrants.
Universities have occasionally faced criticism in China for giving international students better accommodation and requiring lower grades for entrance than for local students.
With 10 million students sitting the Gaokao each year in China, competition is fierce.
According to CGTN, the enrolment rate for Beijing students at Tsinghua and Peking – consistently ranked as the top two institutions in China – was 0.91% in 2017.
For those outside Beijing, it is even lower and, depending on a students’ home province, totals 0.1% or less.
By comparison, the UK’s University of Oxford admitted just over 16% of applicants overall in the same year.
“If you are an international student who wants to major in subjects that are not related to Chinese language or culture, your acceptance rate [for Tsinghua] is estimated to be around 3o%” claimed website Global Scholarships, which provides resources for students wishing to study abroad.
“If you are an international student who is studying Chinese language or culture, your acceptance rate is estimated to be around 80%. So, if you did decently well in high school, you should get in.”
According the Ministry of Education, in 2018 there were 492,185 international students in China, of which 258,122 were doing a degree program.
The largest numbers came from neighbouring South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan and India. The country’s borders are currently closed to all non-Chinese nationals except for some executives from foreign companies.