Sunday, 23 December 2012
The article, entitled "Good Name, Poor Reputation: Sino-Foreign Cooperative Education become Sino-Foreign 'cooperative scam'?", was authored by the MoE's own Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) and published by Edu.163.com, a major source of education news and info in China. Perhaps more interestingly, it was quickly reposted on various websites including a synopsis on the Ministry of Education's on World Education Information site (http://www.wei.moe.edu.cn/c116/1214/content_122706314a27063p1.html), a trusted source for parents and students searching for reliable information on overseas education.
The full article can be viewed here: http://edu.163.com/special/liuxue/rht37.html# (Chinese only).
President Xi Youmin of Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU) was cited in the article highlighting that 90% of these Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes were with 2nd and 3rd rate universities (二三流大学), an observation I am inclined to agree with. Mme Xu Yafen, Chairwoman of Zhejiang Wanli Education group and a major player in the establishment of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) was also quoted as bluntly saying she had been approached on numerous occasions by foreign education institutions offering to "sell" degrees in China with the cost of the degree generally around the US$10k mark.
That two such influential players in the "real" Sino-Foreign cooperative sector should speak so boldly and critically of the situation should be an indicator of the severity of the problem. Due diligence amongst foreign education providers in China is practically non-existent. It is incredibly rare to meet anyone from an overseas HE institution with a solid understanding of the regulatory framework governing academic qualifications in China and, perhaps more worriyng, of the regulations and policies concerning foreign education provision in China. That maybe due to language issues, or placing too much trust in partners, but knowing how compliance works in western organizations, it never fails to surprise me how westerners seem to jettison all good die diligence practice when blinded by the opportunity presented by the "Chinese market".
Interestingly, the article uses terminology to distinguish between what it calls "accredited programmes" and "Sino-Foreign cooperative education". The former, it claims, are not really cooperative programmes at all, but are merely preparatory courses for pursuing further study overseas. It is these types of programmes which are ubiquitous in China. Many foreign universities set up some form of accredited programme and call it a "branch campus". Nothing could be further from the truth and it is very clear that the ire of this report is directed at these types of poorly regulated programmes. We should also note that these "accredited" programmes, including International Foundation Years, Pathways, 2+2's, 1+3's, 3+1's and Pre-Masters invariably accept only students who have failed to gain a place at 4yr university through the National University Entrance Exam (Gaokao).
I personally find it alarming that so many universities, including very reputable universities in the UK, US and elsewhere, appear blissfully unaware (or wilfully ignorant) that the overwhelming majority of students they receive through these programmes are never actually enrolled in a Chinese university, but are recruited to private subsidiary training colleges owned by the Chinese university. Its somewhat akin to a Russell Group university establishing a private executive education company off-campus, charging 10 times the standard tuition fee for a bog standard Foundation programme, accepting UK high school leavers with two D's at A level, accepting them through applications which are not processed through the UCAS system, then sending them to complete their degree after a further 2 years at a prestigious US university. Those students would be accepted by the US institution because it is thought they are at a Russell Group university, when in fact they are not. They are not on campus, not taught by faculty, not even registered at the sending university. It is a con, albeit a very lucrative con.
"Sino-Foreign cooperation" on the other hand is different. It must be approved at the Ministerial level (MoE) and students must be recruited through the relevant universities application system at both UG and PG levels. The major names are the 8 JV universities currently licensed by the MoE, of which 3 are still in the process of being established and have not yet admitted any students:
1. University of Nottingham Ningbo China (Nottingham and Zhejiang Wanli)
2. Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University (Xi'an Jiaotong and Liverpool)
3. United International College, Zhuhai (Beijing Normal & HK Baptist)
4. Sino-British College, Shanghai (USST and 9 NCUK Universities)
5. Wenzhou Kean University (Wenzhou and Kean)
6. Duke Kunshan University, Kunshan, Jiangsu (Duke and Wuhan)*
7. NYU Shanghai (NYU and East China Normal)*
8. CUHK-Shenzhen (CUHK and Shenzhen Municipal Govt)*
In addition to these major joint-ventures, all legally independent from their parent universities and licensed to issue degrees by the Chinese government alongside issuing the foreign degree, their are Sino-Foreign joint programmes. Such examples include Monash-Dongnan, Fudan-LSE. These are generally Masters level programmes which involve 1 year at the Chinese institution and 1 year at the foreign institution. Graduates are awarded a dual degree, but all Chinese students admitted to such programmes MUST be admitted through the national masters application exam. The Sino-British College differs from UNNC, XJTLU and UIC in that it is an "embedded JV" and a college of USST. Thus it does not have full independent status and functions more like a multi-versity, offering degrees from a variety of partners. It also has perhaps the best location of any university in China, right in the middle of the French Concession in Shanghai, where it educates 2000 students with nearly 100% foreign teaching staff on a range of UK degree programmes.
This article is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, because of consistent indications of Chinese authorities' dissatisfaction with foreign education providers who focus on profit maximization through the exporting of Chinese students back to their home campuses on articulation courses, pathways, 2+2's etc.
Secondly, because it makes very clear and concise distinctions between aggressively marketed, sub-standard cash cow operations and the high-quality, genuinely cooperative ventures approved at the MoE level.
Thirdly, and most importantly, that it was written and disseminated by an organization closely affiliated with the MoE and which is itself responsible for the accreditation of foreign degrees in Mainland China (CSCSE).
Finally, an earlier post today highlighted the case of a student in Jiangsu successfully suing a Chinese university subsidiary college for issuing a degee which did not have the correct accreditation and approval (see below), and because the last week has seen an avalanche of reports focusing on Sino-Foreign education quality.
I have been predicting for some time on this blog that approval and accreditation will become a major issue if foreign education providers continue to fail in their due diligience and/or flaunt the very clear regulations governing academic education provision in China. Such media coverage leads me to believe that a clampdown (certainly on new applications) is very likely and that what we are seeing here is the mobilization of the official media sphere in highlighting the risks associated with under-the-radar programmes. It could very well signal the first volley fired in a protracted battle to bring unscrupulous and money-focused foreign education providers into line, and that includes a great majority of those foreign universities currently operating in China. There are many interested parties here, including the Chinese universities themselves who make significant amounts of revenue through such programmes, but if government agencies in charge of HE approval are publishing prominent articles warning of low-quality HE provision across the sector, then it is time for foreign education providers (universities) to really examine their China operations and ask what they have to lose.
Xinhua News this week reported the case of Ye Jun (pseudonym) who has successfully sued his alma mater in Jiangxi province, China. Ye Jun recently completed his 3yr Sino-Foreign programme run at a subsidiary private college of Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University (江西科技师范学院). The International College (国际教育学院) has a long standing partnership with Lambton College, Canada, offering Bachelors of Business Administration with Accounting. Xinhua report that tuition stood at RMB42k with other associated costs bringing the total to RMB54,250 per annum.
Ye Jun successfully graduated and was awarded his diploma from Lambton, but when applying for the Civil Service examinations, was advised that his degree certificate was invalid as the programme had not received approval. Ye Jun was therefore unable to register his qualification with the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE).
The marketing materials offered students the opportunity to receive both a domestic and foreign diploma. Yet in summation, the Nanchang court advised parents and students to check which programmes have been approved by visiting the MoE website and not to place total trust in the marketing materials of foreign education providers or institutions delivering foreign degrees in China. Ye Jun brought claims against the International College of Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University for well over RMB100k, but was awarded only RMB10000 in compensation.
According to Xinhua, it was noted in the court reports that this was the first case in Jiangxi province where a student had brought litigation against a university for running unapproved programmes. The defense revolved around several issues including that Lambton College is listed as a legitimate public university on the MoE website, and arguing somewhat confusingly that because the International College was not recruiting in-quota (Gaokao) students and no Chinese degree was awarded, no approval for the Sino-Foreign programme was required. It was pointed out to the defense that, in fact, any programme enrolling Chinese students on the mainland and issuing academic qualifications must be approved by the MoE.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Its been a quiet few months, but a great deal of new analysis will be following shortly.
Congratulations to President Obama on a second term. We will be watching the 18th Party Congress tomorrow to see how the new CCP Politburo Standing Committee. Will there be a seat for Liu Yandong. We all hope so at The Daxue, though recent reports suggest that a 7 seat PSC will not include Mme Liu.
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
I missed this last week. NYU are launching a new Masters in Business Analytics, which will be simultaneously launched at the new ShanghaiNew York University in Pudong, Shanghai. First intake is reported to be in May 2013, when the Shanghai NYU is also expected to take in 300 undergrade students in Sept 2013, comprised of a minimum of 51% students from Tier 1 of the Chinese Gaokao system.
I am skeptical. No Sino-JV university has thus far been granted permission to issue Master's degrees, with the exception of UNNC, which received approval in 2005.
Only the State Council has the authority to grant licences to offer degrees at Masters level and SHNYU has yet to even publicly state what its tuition fees will be. This indicates that specific licences for UG degree programmes have yet to be agreed and/or that the Shanghai pricing bureau, which will set fees, has yet to make a decision.
There still seems to be little appreciation of the HE Law of PRC and the 2003 Regulations governing Sino-Foreign Education in the PRC. Similarly, if past experiences are anything to go by, obtaining permission to launch Masters degrees prior to first establishing robust teaching and administrative practices at UG level, gaining approval from the State Council for Masters degrees is highly unlikely (though, this is China, so lets not allow precedents to have an undue influence on any expectations).
Similarly, recent announcements by the MoE insist that the Masters application system must be followed by all universities in China, including (as they are established under Chinese law) all Sino-Foreign JVs.
See two previous posts:
MASTERS APPLICATION SYSTEM
CLAMPDOWN ON SINO-FOREIGN JV
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Wednesday, 25 April 2012
This is quite interesting for those watching international education in China, whether involved in int'l HE or simply looking at Chinese HE, reforms and policies. The main reason being that SUSTC is the first university established without foreign assistance to teach programmes in English and utlizing a student centred learning approach. A more in-depth bog post on SUSTC will follow.
A second piece of news which seems to have slipped under the radar is perhaps of more concern/interest to Sino-Foreign educators in China. This is the news that China's second PRC-HK Joint Venture University has been given the go ahead (the first is UIC, a JV between Beijing Normal and HK Baptist).
This second university will be a JV between Shenzhen University (PRC) and Chinese University of Hong Kong, a world-class university located in HK.
With new announcements concerning NYU Shanghai last week (see last post), this really ups the the pressure, as both universities will be opening their doors in 2013, with Duke Kunshan also expected to do the same. It remains to be seen whether the universities of NYU Shanghai, DKU and CUHK Shenzhen will be able to secure quota to recruit from outside their home provinces (respectively Shanghai, Jiangsu and Shenzhen), but launching three universities with high fees, in addition to the established competition from UNNC, XJTLU, SBC and UIC who already operate at or near full capacity.
CUHK Shenzhen could be a major headache for NYU Shanghai. While NYU Shanghai aims to recruit 1400-2500 students, CUHK Shenzhen has a stated first phase target of 7000 students, building to 11000 by the end of the 2nd phase (expected 5 year phases).
Also, CUHK Shenzhen fees are reportedly equivalent to those already approved for the other existing Sino-British JV universities of XJTLU, UNNC and SBC - 60kRMB per annum. This could prove a major headache for NYU and Duke who, it is rumoured, will be hoping to be able to charge significantly more.
Existing JV's, particularly XJTLU and UNNC, can still rest easy knowing that the full approval process can take months, if not years, to play out. Recruiting large numbers of students from across China is impossible without quotas negotiated through the provincial and municpal education bureaus. This should give the existing universities a minimum of 2-3 years to adapt to the incoming competition, though NYU, Duke and CUHK are all big-hitters. If they can make it work.
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Saturday, 14 April 2012
Monday, 2 April 2012
Clampdown: Ministry of Education announces strict enforcement of existing Sino-Foreign Education regulations
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Monday, 19 March 2012
MoE Announce Tougher Enforcement of Masters Student Application System - Predicting the Impact on Sino-Foreign programmes
The announcement highlights the importance which the MoE attach to maintaining the integrity of applications, with irregularities being investigated by the MoE and, in severe cases where conspiracy is evident, by the Public Security Bureau. The MoE clearly states that coordinated attempts to influence the admissions process involving local officials constitutes a criminal act and will be dealt with accordingly.
Original Link (Chinese only)
Such regulations exist for specific reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, these regulations exist to ensure fairness in the application system.
Secondly, and perhaps not as well known, is the issue of degrees in China being conferred by the MoE. This is a centrally controlled system of issuing and conferring degrees which fights academic fraud and also ensures that universities comply with various laws and regulations covering Chinese HE.
Masters candidates in China can only apply for a Masters course which appears on an approved list. In order to apply they must have taken the Masters Admissions Test referred to above. Consequently, prospective students can be sure that the Masters programme to which they are applying has been approved (Masters degree awarding status of a university must be given by the State Council - the PRC Cabinet), and, upon graduation, they will be issued with (a) their degree certificate from the awarding institution, and (b) the conferral from the Ministry of Education. This is the case with both UG and PG degrees in China.
It is important here to note that the conferral from the MoE is as important, if not more so, than the degree itself. Without the conferral, students will be unable to apply for jobs in China in state-owned companies, government departments, banks, universities, schools, hospitals and, increasingly, privately-owned and multi-national corporations operating in China. Also, no MoE conferral means the degree is not recognised as a legitimate academic qualification and any subsequent qualifications earned, such as a PhD, will thus also be declared invalid. This is a system which exists to make it near impossible for false or forged academic degree certificates to help secure employment or acceptance on a higher education course.
The system of centrally conferring degrees through the MoE is also extended, via the Chinese Embassies around the world, to foreign-educated Chinese citizens. For example, say a student decides to go to the UK to study, he/she must, upon completion of their degree, have the degree certificate validated and notarized by the Chinese Embassy or Consular Office in the UK. Then, upon return to China, the student will be added to the centrally-held list of graduates and have their degree conferred through the MoE, thus enabling the student to apply for a job (or further degree at a Chinese university).
Another consideration is for those students enrolled on a cooperative degree programme. These take many forms, but are essentially degree programmes taught entirely in China or partially in China and partially in a foreign country, and which offer a foreign degree or both a foreign and Chinese degree to graduating students. All 2+2 undergraduate programmes fall under this category, as do 1+1 Masters programmes and all programmes taught at Sino-Foreign JV universities. In this case, however, the degree must be approved by the Ministry of Education. Say, for example, an "under-the-radar" 2+2 UG programme recruits students. The student completes 2 years at the Chinese partner university. Then goes to the UK to complete the final 2 years. Upon graduation, the Chinese Embassy or consular office will refuse to validate and notarise a degree certificate obtained through a 2+2 programme unless that 2+2 programme has been specifically approved and licensed by the MoE.
This latest announcement from the MoE implies that all Masters courses in China will be subject to increased controls on admissions standards. Thus, any Masters programme launched in China, taught fully or partially in China, must be fully approved and taught at a university licensed by the MoE to offer Masters level degrees. Otherwise, students will be unable to apply. Any students enrolled outside the official application system (i.e. illegally) on "under-the-radar" Masters programmes will be unable to get the MoE conferral of their degree.
I am aware of several situations in China where cooperative UG/Masters degree programmes have been established outside the regulatory framework. I fully expect this to become a major issue for those institutions engaged in this practice next year, when those students graduate and discover their degree certificate is deemed invalid and they cannot obtain employment in China or go on to further study. This is an issue of those institutions running de facto illegal degree programmes in China which transgress either or all the 1995 HE Law, the 2003 Sino-Foreign JV Regulations, the 2006 Amendment to Sino-Foreign JV regulations and, perhaps most crucially, the conditions of the licence granted to those institutions to operate in China. Such instances will certainly bring a swarm of angry parents to the doors of these institutions, possible legal action and the wrath of the MoE, thus damaging both the reputation of the institution itself and the parent institutions including the foreign degree awarding institution. In most cases, only the foreign degree is being offered, thus making it all the more likely that the penalties and punishments for disregarding Chinese HE regulations will rest entirely with the foreign institution. It is also unlikely that the MoE will view such blatant disregard for HE regulations, whether deliberate or through ignorance, as anything other than a deliberate attempt to circumvent regulations, especially as such high fees (40k-90kRMB/£4k - £9k) are being charged.
There is also the question of morality here. As a teacher, I would find it absolutely immoral to market a programme to a student in the knowledge that it had not been officially approved. While the UK has the QAA and strong systems of checks and balances both within the university and from various external non-governmental bodies, in China this is all administered through the Ministry of Education. It is a basic and fundamental expectation that courses offered through a university in China satisfy the quality control and approval mechanisms devised by the MoE. Perhaps we will see a system of crippling fines introduced to dissuade fly-by-night courses being established, much the same as has been done in India recently. Predatory marketing of foreign universities in China, driven often by senior admin and international officers keen to reduce their reliance on recruiting international students from the open-market, is potentially very damaging to the British HE sector's reputation in China. It would perhaps be better for these universities to pay greater attention to compliance with Chinese HE regulations, rather than press ahead with marketing of programmes that have not yet been fully granted the necessary approval and licences. It would certainly be safer.
Saturday, 17 March 2012
|"Lei Feng on Campus: Education System carries out 'Study Lei Feng Activities'" from the MoE Website:|
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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
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