Experts warn against the mistaken idea only under-performing students come to China

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/24 20:18:39

Chinese and foreign students study Chinese cuisine and tea in Southwest China's Sichuan Province in May. Photo: IC

Chinese universities should set a higher threshold for international student admission and treat all students equally, Chinese experts suggested.

Some Chinese schools have come under fire recently after online exposés showed that Chinese students and school authorities ended up in verbal and even physical conflicts over dorm arrangements that the students say favored foreign students.

Some 400 Chinese students from the Wuxi Institute of Technology, a college in East China's Jiangsu Province, were requested to give up their original dorm rooms, which are believed to be in relatively better condition, to make room for their newly enrolled 320 foreign counterparts early in July.

Later, the school faculty members in charge threatened those Chinese students declining to move out with failing academic grades. 

The college later issued a statement online in response to the increasing public uproar ignited by such arrangements, "Student dormitories are the college's public resource, and it's normal to adjust dormitory arrangements."

Shortly after that, a Weibo user going by the name tangruideshuo said that Shenyang City University demanded junior Chinese students  clean up foreign students' dorm buildings, to mark the school's "labor week" event. The foreign students who live in the dorm buildings were exempt from the activity.

A junior student of the school was quoted by the news site as saying that if a student does not show up and participate the cleanup, the student's credits will be reduced as punishment.

An employee with the Shenyang school, surnamed Ma, defended the arrangement by saying that the students were only asked to work in public areas, and none inside any dorm rooms.

Hype and hysteria

Some netizens complained that the schools are allowing foreign students with poor academic performance, and tolerating bad behavior from the students.

In July, a Cameroonian student who was studying at Beijing's Tsinghua University was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment, with hefty fines and expulsion, after he was found to have swindled around 6 million yuan ($890,000 ) from his "Chinese girlfriend," according to the Beijing News.

Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, pointed out that certain schools in China indeed deliberately lower their admission bar to attract students from other countries.

Liang warned that such preferential policies could establish the mistaken idea that only underperforming students come to China, and the elite go to the US and Europe. This mistaken idea could create bad blood between Chinese people and people from other countries, impairing the cultivation of high quality talent.

Attracting talent

In 2017, 489,200 international students furthered their studies in China, marking an increase of over 10 percent for the second consecutive year, said the Ministry of Education. The number of degree students reached 241,500 (49.38 percent of the total), up 15.04 percent year on year.

Most international students came from South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Laos, in that order.

It is inevitable for Chinese schools to follow an international path if they want to ascend to join the world's first-class colleges and universities, Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, Xiong noted that the reason why most Chinese schools set relatively low admission bars for foreign students is that Chinese schools at the present lag behind their international counterparts in terms of cultivating quality talent.

Chinese schools should also stop distinguishing foreign students from Chinese ones, said Xiong, adding that they should to foster a truly diversified academic environment to inspire the genuine pursuit of knowledge and truth in China.

Liang also suggested China should expand the number of programs for foreign students and offer courses that can better represent China and help these students' development, such as economics, finance and so forth.

Newspaper headline: Guests as equals

Posted in: SOCIETY

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