Jun 27, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Planning on studying in China? If so, you may have a class or two to add to your semester’s load. According to a recent report from the South China Morning Post, international students will now have to take compulsory courses in law, culture and language.  Here’s a closer look at the new rule, along with accompanying changes which will impact China’s international students.

Changing Requirements in China

Implemented by China’s ministries of education, foreign affairs and public security, the new regulations will mandate colleges and universities to instruct international students -- except those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan -- on a number of different subjects, including Chinese laws and regulations as well as traditional Chinese cultures and customs. Additionally, international philosophy and politics majors will also be required to take compulsory political science classes.

The reasoning behind the new rules, according to the Chinese government? To “regulate schools’ admission, the cultivation and management of international students and for the convenience of international students studying in schools in China.”

Beyond Coursework

The regulations -- which will go into effect in July -- will also require China’s higher education institutions to designate special instructors with the role of “understand[ing] international students’ needs in their studies and daily life, and provid[ing] information, counseling and recreational activities.”

Furthermore, the government changes ban religious activities on campus; bar international students from taking part in political activities and military training; and require international students living off-campus to register their addresses with local police.

Concludes SCMP, “The regulations on international students come as the Communist Party is tightening ideological control on the country’s college campuses,” and are aligned with President Xi Jinping’s call for increased “ideological guidance” for university students toward the goal of transforming China’s colleges and universities into “strongholds of the party’s leadership.”

China’s international student population reached 442,000 in 2016 -- an 11 percent increase from the prior year. South Korea topped the list of sending countries, trailed by the US, Thailand, Pakistan and India, according to SCMP.

Read more about studying in China.


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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