China tightens overseas rules

January 31, 1997

THE CHINESE State Education Commission has banned overseas institutions from setting up and running programmes or setting examinations for profit in China without government approval.

The commission has acted to ensure that only organisations with government approval can conduct co-operative educational activities. It has issued provisional regulations governing academic and vocational programmes and exams jointly run by Chinese and overseas educational institutions, companies, religious groups and other organisations. The new rules aim to help raise and maintain standards of teaching and learning, and remove organisations which are out purely for financial gain.

Without prior authorisation, universities, colleges and other organisations are forbidden from issuing foreign certificates, diplomas and degrees to students who have taken their courses and exams. Only China's provincial institutions have the authority to hold exams jointly with overseas institutions. Chinese and foreign institutions must have exam subjects and standards which comply with Chinese laws.

Commission statistics show that 20 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have seen the creation of over 70 Sino-overseas sponsored institutions over the past few years. These include higher education institutions, technical and professional training colleges and schools, secondary and primary schools and kindergartens. While the commission recognises the contribution of these institutions and their role in complementing China's education system, it has been concerned that a large number of institutions at all levels has been established, either illegally, or with questionable motives, such as financial exploitation. Many have dubious credentials and show no sign of maintaining standards, the commission says.

The outer regions of the country, including Heilongjiang Province, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have also been tapped by organisations including companies, guilds, and religious groups. The commission says it wants to ensure that these organisations help the regions' peoples to improve their living standards by acquiring knowledge and skills, rather than taking a quick profit.

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