Become a student of the world-famous university at home! Is it worthwhile to be an “international student at home”?

For Chinese students, in addition to Gaokao (College Entrance Examination in China) and studying abroad, now there is a third option, namely “becoming an international student at home”. The latest data from Ministry of Education show that as of January 9, 2018, the number of Sino-foreign educational cooperation programs at the level of undergraduate and postgraduate has reached 1,600 and more.

The program enables a student to get a foreign diploma by studying at home without a huge cost to cover as is the case of studying overseas. So it is appealing to some students and their parents, who, however, are worried that the world-famous schools operating in China might not promise them as bright a future as their counterparts abroad do. How to ensure the teachers giving instruction in China are as good as their peers at home? What about the prospect of the graduates of such schools? Will the famous European and American universities deteriorate greatly when operating in China?

With all these questions in mind, the reporter visited many people in charge of the endeavor, and talked with students, their parents and educational experts, in an effort to get a full picture of the “international student at home”.

“Over the past 5 years, China’s education has seen a growing international influence, “Liu Jingnan, president of Duke Kunshan University, told the Global Times. “Since August 2017 when our school started to accept a global application for bachelor education, we have received lots of inquiries and admission applications from across the world, which is a miniature of China’s education going global.”

In order to base their endeavor better on China’s actual conditions and Chinese market, these famous universities have worked hard on the set of majors. The University of Nottingham Ningbo, by following the principle of “targeting Chinese market and pursuing Sino-West mutual complementation”, has set up Chinese Culture as a course, which helps students to explore western knowledge system while maintaining a reverence for Chinese culture and ideas. Duke Kunshan University also takes into account the special needs of Chinese students, so it has encouraged students to understand Chinese tradition, perceive the profound changes in China, and cultivate their humanity.

Ying Yonghong, member of CPC committee and director of WKU Chinese Curricula Center told the Global Times that the Business College of WKU has set up Management Science, with two directions namely Global Logistics Management and International Entrepreneurial Management, both hot major designed to serve Belt and Road Initiative and Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation strategy.

The advantages of Sino-foreign cooperative universities are obvious, such as the unique approach to enrollment. Mr. Liu told the reporter that DKU has adopted a “541” mode to enroll students with a focus on students’ comprehensive abilities, in which the Gaokao results have a 50% weight, the synthetic evaluation of the examinees’ performance in high school and their applications have a 40% weight, while the graduate test results have a 10% weight. Then the three parts are put together to decide whether a candidate would be accepted.

WKU also adopts a “three in one” approach similar to that. Under this mode, we admit students based on a full examination of students’ Gaokao results, graduate test results and comprehensive quality evaluation, as well as the major features and educational objectives.

This does not mean that examinees can “escape” from Gaokao. Actually, there are candidates with high scores who have decided to be “an international student at home”, so the competition is quite fierce. Shen Weiqi, vice president of UNNC said that his school has set an enrollment in 2017, in which the average admission scores for science students are 73 points higher than the national standard for key colleges, and 48 points higher than national standard for arts students, and a candidate must have got 115 and above in English exam. Currently, WKU has set its admission scores for science students at 30-70 points higher than the provincial standards for key colleges in Shandong, Hebei, Hubei and Liaoning.

Located in a city that is not a first-tier city in China, it is challenging to attract and retain a world’s leading faculty. Mr. Ying told the Global Times, “WKU has signed all the contracts with Kean University (America) on hiring foreign teachers. Our school will resign the one-year contract based on a comprehensive assessment of the staff. Currently, we have nearly 100 foreign teachers, most of whom have Ph.D. or experience in global teaching.” In UNNC, its faculty is hired from across the world and assessed against the standards set up by the University of Nottingham. At present, foreign teachers take up about 73% of the faculty. While in DKU, more than 30% of the professors are directly from Duke University.

When the quality of faculty is guaranteed, there comes the problem of how to maintain a good learning atmosphere. Will the whole-English teaching turn out a defeat in the Chinese-speaking environment? “It won’t happen. We use original textbooks, we have foreign teachers, and we speak English only in class,” said Lou Minhui to the Global Times, a student from WKU and was an exchange student in America. She told the reporter at WeChat, “Though WKU now doesn’t have a large number of international students, and my roommates are all Chinese, I feel it easier to discuss issues after class in English because I have been exposed to English for so long.” She added, “I feel quite at home in America thanks to my English competency built in WKU.”

Her father told the Global Times that she had joined many events at the campus, and he believed this helped a lot for her to learn in the whole-English environment.

The reporter interviewed several students who have chosen to be an international student at home, and they said they all like the unique European and American teaching style, in which you have kind of “discretion” in the final exam. The business school of UNNC once tried the international student network-cooperation examination for the final exam, in which students from various countries sat the exam on the Internet. Meng Ziyao attended it and said that it not only tested what he had learned in the classroom but helped him overcome the problems of jet lag and language barrier, enabling him to communicate and cooperate with others.

According to the Global Times, only a minority of students would choose to be an international student at home, while the majority preferred to study abroad. The former choice seemed more of a springboard for going abroad. 60% of the graduates in two years from WKU went abroad for further study, and most of them were admitted by the top 100 schools. Since its foundation, UNNC has sent over 12,000 graduates abroad. In 2017, 83% of the graduates furthered their study, and those hunting a job mostly found their positions in banks, foreign companies, and accounting firms.

Yu Ziqi, a freshman of international accounting in WKU has a clear planning for her future: studying abroad for a master degree. She told the Global Times due to her lack of language fluency she had not gone abroad directly, and she had decided to spend some time at home preparing herself well. For that purpose, she thought of WKU as an ideal destination.

According to the survey by the Global Times, the annual tuition fee for admission by Sino-foreign cooperative universities is between 45,000 yuan and 80,000 yuan (RMB, the same below). Compared with the cost of more than 300,000 yuan per year for overseas study in Europe and the United States, it is indeed much cheaper.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of 21st Century Education Research Institute told the Global Times that, the operations of world-famous schools in China can be seen as kind of an “intermediate zone” between “study abroad” and “domestic college”. The overall quality of Chinese and foreign cooperative universities is well ensured, which, plus the low tuition, has provided students with another option. It is normal that a high proportion of graduates from such school would further their study abroad, for they have chosen such schools for that purpose. China’s postgraduate education still lags behind its international counterparts, as witnessed by Tsinghua University where 30% of the graduates would study abroad for a master degree.

What is the value of a diploma for an international student at home? Does it have an international competitiveness? Mr. Xiong told the Global Times, “As far as I know, the educational quality of such colleges is good, and their teaching contents are especially desirable. Their tuition is relatively high, so they have to attract excellent students with guaranteed teaching quality. And they will become more appealing if they can improve the overall teaching quality in China.” He suggested that both students and their parents should avoid expecting instant effects, whether they study at home or abroad. They should not choose a school for the sake of a diploma, but for the sake of a better education, which is where they should proceed from.