The move means that high school students who complete the ‘National Higher Education Entrance Examination’, or Gaokao, with top grades, will now be able to apply for direct entry onto Birmingham degree programs without first completing a Foundation year.
“We are opening access to Birmingham’s education opportunities for the most dedicated Chinese students”
Gaokao is usually taken by students in their last year of senior high school and, every year, each province in China sets its own list of minimum Gaokao grades for entry into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 universities in China.
Students are tested in Chinese, mathematics and a foreign language, which is usually English. They also have to choose between testing in social sciences or natural sciences in most regions.
The University of Birmingham – Jinan University Joint Institute, which opened in September 2017, already accepts Gaokao for entry to its innovative dual degree mathematics courses.
University of Birmingham vice-chancellor David Eastwood said the university welcomes people from around the globe to study at Birmingham and Chinese students form an integral part of its education and research community.
“We are further opening access to Birmingham’s wealth of educational opportunities for the brightest and most dedicated Chinese students by accepting this rigorous and important qualification. I look forward to welcoming these high-flying students to the University of Birmingham,” he said.
Gaokao is becoming increasingly accepted by universities in Australia, the US, Canada and Europe.
Some 1,337 Chinese students are currently studying at undergraduate level at the university, making up 6% of the total undergraduate population.
However, Birmingham will only be considering students who achieve a minimum 80% Gaokao score and meet additional academic and English language requirements.
Director of the University of Birmingham’s China Institute, Jon Frampton, said the university has a long history of educating students from China and that he is “delighted” it is now accepting the Gaokao.
“This gives the brightest and best Chinese students an opportunity to move straight into the first year of our undergraduate programs and experience the benefits of studying at a global top 100 university, such as Birmingham,” he added.
A growing number of institutions in the US, which traditionally require the SAT or ACT results for admission, are also implementing test-flexible or test-optional policies for international applicants.
This trend was signalled by the University of New Hampshire in June 2018, when it announced it would accept Chinese students with Gaokao qualifications – described as a “bold step” by some stakeholders.