Editor’s Note: Recently, an article was published on Sohu regarding Tsinghua University lowering it’s acceptance standards for international exchange students. It has drawn the ire of many Chinese students and citizens who feel that the hard work they have to do to get into such a university is not reflected in the policy changes.
Recently, there was some commotion over Tsinghua University lowering it’s entrance standards for foreign students . According to the new standards, starting this year, foreign exchange students and students applying direct to Tsinghua will only be required to pass the HSK 4 (standardized Chinese language test) granting that they reach level HSK 5 within a year of entrance. Those whose native language is Mandarin and those who have completed high school in Mandarin will not be required to take the test. It should be noted that HSK 4 only demonstrates a basic level of communication about everyday topics and by no means indicates college level Mandarin.
The new standards have caused an uproar among students at Tsinghua and in Chinese society at large due to the fact that many believe a university with a reputation such as that of Tsinghua’s ought to hold its applicants to higher standards and that it shows preferential treatment toward foreign students.
One reason Beijing’s housing prices are so high is that people living in the city have an easier time getting into the universities there. Many people move to Beijing in hopes that their children may one day get into a university like Tsinghua and some are afraid the changes will make entrance more difficult for Chinese students.
Under the new rules, children of families who had previously emigrated and have passports from other countries would be exempt from taking college entrance examinations and may be eligible to enroll as foreign students. So how exactly does Tsinghua define a foreign student? Students born in and with citizenship in other countries as well as those born in China who have held foreign citizenship for 4 or more years and who have proof of residence in said foreign country for 2 or more years.
In one response to the change in regulations, some have pointed out that those who have the means to immigrate to another country are, generally speaking, already people in the upper eschalons of society.
Tsinghua claims that the changes were made for the sake of increasing exchange with foreign universities, something many people are skeptical of. An article on Sohu whose author remains unnamed, refutes the university’s line of reasoning by comparing the new policies to Harvard’s acceptance policies for exchange students. It points out how strict Harvard’s standards are and that 11 percent of accepted students are international students, almost double that of Tsinghua’s 5.8 percent. The author even goes so far as to claim the policy changes are an example of “foreigner worship”, giving preferential treatment to foreign applicants.
The problem that Tsinghua is facing is not unique to them. Chinese universities are seeking to move up in world rankings and internationalize, however compared to English, the pool of qualified Mandarin speakers and readers is small making it difficult for many people to successfully apply to Chinese universities. Universities seeking to attract more foreign students while not relinquishing their erudite, high statuses will need to strike a balance between realistic entry requirements for exchange students and not evoking the ire of Chinese students and citizens. Whether or not they will succeed remains to be seen.
So, are the changes fair or do you think they give preferential treatment to foreign applicants? Let us know in the comments below!
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