Yesterday (1st April 2012), the MoE issued a circular via their website announcing the strict enforcement of regulations concerning Sino-Foreign cooperative education. This includes all cooperative programmes and Sino-Foreign JV universities in China (i.e. any joint-programmes taught wholly or partially in the territory of the PRC) at Diploma, Foundation, UG, PG and Doctoral levels. It appears not to be an April Fool's joke.
The circular calls on all Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes/institutions to "accurately grasp the policy limits of Sino-Foreign cooperation in school management" and explicitly insists that the licensing procedures for programmes must be strictly adhered to, with approval being granted prior to the launch of new diplomas and degrees.
The circular clearly states that programmes "foreign academic diplomas and degree certificates obtained in violation of regulations shall not be certified". This means that, as has been pointed out on this blog in a recent post (see: http://www.thedaxue.com/2012/03/moe-announce-tougher-enforcement-of.html ), the MoE will not confer any foreign degrees wholly or partially taught in China unless they have specifically been approved by the Ministry of Education. Lack of a conferral from the MoE essentially means the degree is not recognised in the PRC and renders any further study at Chinese universities impossible; means any subsequent PG or doctoral certificates will not be recognised either, and massively restricts (almost entirely) employment opportunities as most employers insist on a degree certificate and the MoE conferral (the conferral is seen as a check against fraudulent diplomas and degrees - all Chinese students who study entirely overseas must have their degrees notarised by the Chinese Embassy in that country and, upon return, the MoE will confer the degree).
In addition, the MoE expressed their intention to enforce existing regulations and licence conditions concerning profit generation: "we must resolutely resist and correct (fix) misconceptions and practices of the foreign school as a means of income generation". This clause of the circular should be noted by Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes which emphasise profit/high fees/marketing/recruitment over and above strong administration, quality teaching and management of their programmes in China.
In instances where unlicensed programmes are in operation, the MoE advises that "unauthorised use of the name of the (Sino-Foreign) university and resources to run illegally held foreign school activities shall be promptly put to a stop" and "illegally held school activities, illegal issue of foreign diplomas...in a timely manner shall be punished". The message could hardly be clearer. Foreign universities must abide by the conditions of their licence, the 1998 HE Law of the PRC, the 2003 Sino-Foreign Cooperative Education Mgt Regulations and the 2006 amendment to those regulations.
So, a warning indeed to all foreign educators involved in degree programmes in China: do your due diligence and make sure everything you are doing is above board and that all approvals have been obtained from the MoE in advance. Those cooperative programmes operating within the parameters of their licences and observing the spirit and conditions of the 2003 regulations (amended in 2006) have little to be concerned about, save for an potential increase in monitoring by the HE bureaucracy. This announcement merely announces that existing regulations will be much more strictly enforced with contravention of regulations being investigated by local/provincial education bureaus, the MoE and (if necessary) by the Public Security Bureau.
Original article (Chinese only): http://www.moe.gov.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/s5987/201204/133501.html
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