Tsinghua’s debated admissions policy aimed at introducing more overseas talent

China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has come under fire recently after it released a set of admissions requirements for foreign applicants, with many Chinese netizens criticizing the school for offering “preferential admissions,” Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Jan. 31.

According to the university’s 2018 requirements for international bachelor’s degree applicants, foreign citizens may apply if they have a high-school diploma and are proficient in Chinese.

Some critics argue the new rules have made it much easier for foreigners to get into Tsinghua University, especially those who are originally Chinese. However, education experts say they do not lower standards for international applicants.

According to the new rules, applicants must pass two hurdles before receiving an admission offer from Tsinghua University: the online application and a comprehensive evaluation that is used by domestic universities to examine overseas applicants.

For those who have given up their original Chinese citizenship and have become foreign citizens, they should have lived overseas for at least two years during the last four years before April 30 in the year they are admitted by the university.

Peking University, Renmin University, Xiamen University, and other prestigious universities have also adopted the online application and comprehensive evaluation mechanism to examine undergraduate applicants.

Tsinghua says that the number of domestic students won’t be affected by international student recruitment.

Xiong Bingqi, an education expert, says the threshold has not been lowered for international students, and the online application and comprehensive evaluation mechanism eliminate some of the candidates, as the school only chooses the best.

Some experts suggest that more attention should be paid to how to strengthen the school’s ability to attract more exemplary overseas talents from across the world.

According to the country’s plan to internationalize its education, by 2020, some 500,000 foreign students will be admitted by all levels of schools, and a yearly growth rate of 6.94 percent in the number of foreign students will be achieved.