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China: New international student management system

China has revised its international student management guidelines and introduced new regulations in the administration and training of international students.

The new set of rules, announced by China’s Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Security to enter into force by 1 July, aim to improve the quality of international education and to facilitate a better integration of foreign students into local environments. The old rules concerning the management of international students, announced by the same three ministries in 2000 (for higher education institutions) and 1999 (for primary and secondary schools), will be superseded as of 1 July.

The new guidelines that will affect all international students enrolled in Chinese higher education institutions (HEIs) are found under Chapters 2-5 of the Guideline. Many of the new rules are not new but are much more detailed and elaborate than the set of rules enforced since 2000. For the first time, explicitly potential consequences are listed for HEIs not performing a satisfactory job in managing international students. Emphasis is also placed on tracking students' academic work progress, to ensure they are in fact actively pursuing their studies and not residing in the county for ‘other’ purposes. The new guideline emphasizes the use of information technology in managing and tracking international students in a timely manner. It also lists out a number of misconducts (Article 44) that can be subject to penalties. These misconducts include: admission of international students against national and institutional regulations; generation of profits in the recruitment process; non-disclosure of fee-charging items, fee standards, or charging unstated, non-standard fees; issuing diplomas, transcripts or other academic certificates against regulations; low teaching quality or unsatisfactory management leading to negative social impacts. The penalties may involve legal consequences or restrictions of international student admissions. 

So called joint-venture universities, comprising a formal partnership between a Chinese and a foreign university, will not be exempted from the changes. The regulations are to facilitate an enhanced study experience, by better preparing foreign students for the local context and managing their integration throughout, but also look to align behaviours with Chinese customs and assure compliance with laws. Both the departments of Foreign Affairs and Security will take a role in assuring the effective implementation of the enhanced system for managing the mobility period of international students.

Ministry of Education of the Peoples Republic of China – press release (only in Chinese)


Below a translation can be found, containing a selection of revised or new articles under the four relevant Chapters concerning China’s new student management system:

Chapter 2: Management of international student recruitment

• Article 12: HEIs should assess the entry qualifications and proofs of financial support of international applicants, and conduct entrance examination or assessment in the recruitment. Admission decisions rest with the HEIs, but HEIs must not admit unqualified applicants. 

• Article 14: HEIs should follow national regulations in setting the fees charged to international students. Regulations concerning fee-charging items, fee standards, or fees for termination or transfer of study must be publicly announced.

Chapter 3: Management of teaching and learning quality 

• Article 15: HEIs should integrate the international student teaching plan in the overall teaching plan and suitable teachers should be selected to increase quality assurance.

• Article 16: International students should follow the study plan and take part in relevant examinations or assessments. HEIs must keep a faithful record of the students’ classroom participation and grades. Chinese language should be a compulsory course for international students. Political theory course should be compulsory for international students studying philosophy and political science.

•Article 18: The basic medium of instruction is/are the language(s) commonly used in the PR China. HEIs must provide remedial classes to international students who do not meet the required level of language proficiency for studying.

• Article 19: Qualified HEIs are allowed to operate specialized foreign-language taught study programmes for international students. The students in such programmes may use foreign language for writing the theses, but the abstracts must be in Chinese. Decision on the language to be used for the thesis defense should be made by the HEIs concerned.  

• Article 21: HEIs should issue graduation certificates or other academic certificates in accordance with relevant national regulations. HEIs must handle the digital registrations of the students’ enrollment and graduate certificates in a timely manner. 

Chapter 4: Management of on-campus international student activities and services

• Article 22: HEIs should fulfill responsibilities assigned by the relevant foreign student management bodies for coordinating international student recruitment, teaching, daily management and alumni networking activities.

•Article 23: HEIs should provide public information of the university’s basic facts, education activities, recruitment and admission guidelines, and student services to facilitate easy access of such information by international students. 

•Article 24: HEIs should provide room and board and other necessary facilities to international students. Regulations on the use of such facilities must be publicized. International students living off campus must report and register with the local public security body promptly. 

• Article 25: HEIs should provide international students with education on Chinese legal systems, regulations of HEIs, understanding of the local contexts of PR China and the university, Chinese customs and traditions, in order to familiarize the students with the study and living environment.  HEIs should provide counsellors to international students to assist them in the learning and daily life needs. HEIs should provide timely information, counselling, and extra-curricular activities. The counsellor to student for international students should not be lower than that for local students.

• Article 26: HEIs should encourage international students to participate in healthy leisure activities and provide good framework conditions to facilitate their participation in such activities. International students can voluntarily participate in volunteering activities, or celebrations of important Chinese festivals. HEIs should normally not organize international students to participate in military or political activities.

• Article 27: Upon the consent of the HEIs, international students can organize activities to celebrate important festivals of their home countries in designated places on campus, but such activities should not be offensive to other countries, nationalities ,or contain offensive languages and behaviors.  

• Article 28: Upon the consent of the HEIs, international students can establish social networking bodies and carry out activities permitted in designed areas according to Chinese laws. Such activities should also be guided and managed by the HEIs.

• Article 29: HEIs should respect the customs, traditions and religions of international students, but should not offer venues for religious activities. There should not be any religious activities on campus.

•Article 30: International students can pursue practical work placements in the frame of studies but not to engage in employment or business conduct.  

Chapter 5: Scholarship schemes

• Article 32: The PRC Government has set up Chinese Government Scholarships to support international students, and encourages provincial governments to provide similar scholarships. 

• Article 34: HEIs can set up scholarship schemes for international students. They should encourage business enterprises, social organizations or individual to set up similar scholarships, without attaching unreasonable conditions.

• Article 42: National education, public security and foreign policy departments responsible for the management of international students should make good use of modern information technology to establish international student information management system, advance information sharing mechanisms, and continuously improve international student management and support services.