China tells on-line students: get back to class


A policy change requires in-country study

weekend announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Overseas Study Service Centre has ended pandemic-emergency approval for Chinese students at international universities to study on-line, from home.

The announcement states that as foreign colleges and universities have resumed “off-line” teaching, as of January distance learning will not be certified.

This is a policy change with big and immediate implications for Australian providers.

According to International Education Association of Australia CEO, Phil Honeywood, “while China has never been comfortable with on-line learning, most would have expected that there would be a transition period.”

“Such a rapid pivot back to regulated face-to-face learning requirements will definitely create challenges for our education providers and our visa processing, he says.

While the announcement comes as airlines increase capacity to Australia, with reports of increased flights, (foreshadowed by CMM, December 15) it creates challenges for providers.

Universities Australia’s Catriona Jackson points to, “obvious logistical issues that need to be worked through to ensure the smooth return of around 40,000 Chinese students who remain outside of Australia.”

And if the new policy requires Chinese students to study in the home-country of their institution, Beijing may query Australian qualifications offered on-line in whole or part here.

There will also be increased and immediate demand for accommodation, already in short supply for international students, (CMM November 2)

Providers will also need to brace for deferments from students who cannot get to Australia in time for the start of semester.

Nevertheless this is good news, “it will be welcomed by most stakeholders,” Mr Honeywood says.

“China’s decision will encourage students to return to Australia which is a good thing,” Ms Jackson adds.