What do foreign universities need to know about establishing institutional partnerships in China?
“MOE approval is very difficult. The approval criteria is that the foreign partner university has to be a very good one, if not the best in its country”
Shuai Yang, senior consultant at BOSSA, answers some common questions foreign institutions have about 3+1 and 2+2 arrangements with Chinese universities.
For foreign institutions wanting to partner with Chinese schools, they must submit applications to the national/state ministries of education to get approval. Is that true?
There are basically two types of N+N programs in terms of government approval:
1. Programs with the national (MOE) approval may join all public universities recruiting students from high school graduates throughout the country. These students are called “in-quota students”, because they have passed the nationally unified entrance exam to universities. It is fairly easy to have the number of students the programs expect.
2. Programs without the approval can’t recruit in-quota students. They have to recruit either “out-of-quota” students (who failed the national exam) or students from the current student body of the Chinese partner universities, namely, transfer the students from their Chinese programs to the N+N programs. It is not easy and usually the number of students is small.
The second type may not have any government approval at all, but many universities would apply for provincial approval or “file” the program with provincial governments.
How difficult is it to get approval for such an arrangement from the national and provincial governments of China?
MOE approval is very difficult. The approval criteria is that the foreign partner university has to be a very good one, if not the best in its country, and the subject of the N+N program has to be in the academic area where there are not many Chinese universities providing similar programs. Generally speaking, science and engineering programs are more possible to get approval for than business programs. MOE officials have been saying unofficially that they will not approve any business programs in the future, because “There are already too many of them in China.”
“Generally speaking, science and engineering programs are more possible to get approval for than business programs”
But provincial approval is much easier. Local universities can usually get it. In some cases recently, some universities are recruiting in-quota students from outside the universities for its N+N programs with provincial approval. MOE would punish the provincial educational authorities and the universities in the past, but they look safe now. Don’t know why.
What are the criteria to qualify as a top US university, program, or faculty to be considered a viable partner?
MOE officials read the US News & World Report and trust its college ranking. Many Chinese universities have already got N+N programs on their campuses and would like more. Those who don’t have any N+N yet are usually small, local universities, and for sure they want to establish partnerships.
Find a partner university or a couple of partner universities in China who really want to have programs with foreign universities (you’d better have strong promise from the president of Chinese partner university) and push them for approval, whatever the approval is, be it MOE or provincial. For example, Tianjin municipality is considered on the same level of provincial government.