Several instances of preferential treatment of international students have raised concern over the privileges that international students enjoy in China. More and number of Chinese universities regard the number of international students that they can enroll, an essential factor to measure their rate of internationalization in the arena of China’s higher education.
China, in recent years, has tried to lure more
students from foreign countries by tweaking various policies. By lowering their
enrolment standards, providing preferential treatment in terms of better living
facilities, substantial scholarships and allowing some practices that are
generally forbidden in China such as absenteeism. However, when the question
arises whether China should change its policy of attracting more international
students, the answer is a big no.
Aspiring to attract more international students is a policy that China has long adhered to. Over the past few years, China has amplified its efforts to bring in more students from abroad. In September 2010, the Ministry of Education in China drew a plan to increase the number of full-time international students, studying in the Chinese education system to a headcount of 500,000 by 2020.
For China, the need to host more international students is of utmost importance if China is to rise against the Western bias against its political system. The heightening influence of the adverse Western reports displays China as a potential regional threat by throwing light on its weaknesses.
The best way to combat this unnerving influence is by showcasing a better understanding of the Chinese political system, culture, economic model and values through the vast number of international students who come to study in the country. These students can not only bridge the gap between China and the West but also provide a new platform through which the world can view China.
The students studying in China, especially from developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, can learn a thing or two about development through their experience in China.
China has made quick strides since its reform and opening-up and made significant developments. Over the past few decades, China has brought out generations of outstanding students for foreign countries, from both developing and developed countries.
Over 3,300 military students from over 100 countries have reportedly graduated from the PLA Nanjing Army Command College, which was founded in 1952. Among them, five students became presidents; one student became vice president, one student was elected prime minister, and eight students served as defense ministers.
With the development of the proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China must further enhance and strengthen cultural and educational ties with the countries along the BRI route.
The universities and colleges in China should continue to increase their charm and propositions to international students, to foster their self-development, improve their cultural exchanges, and construct China’s soft power. However, the best way to build this cultural bridge is to improve the quality of China’s education rather than providing special privileges to international students.