Foreigners working and studying in China should first pass a Chinese-language exam similar to the English proficiency tests that overseas universities require of international students.
That was the suggestion Zhou Xiaoping, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, put to the advisory body’s annual session, which ended on Saturday.
Zhou, who offered no data to support his claims, said foreign students were at times treated better in China than local students, resulting in “long-term public anger” and “dissatisfaction”.
Some overseas students “indulge in eating, drinking and having fun for two years, without even knowing a word of Chinese when they leave”, Zhou claimed, adding that they treated their studies in China as a “vacation”.
“This model of recruiting foreign students ... has emphasised the negative aspects of exchanges between China and foreign countries,” said Zhou, a nationalist political commentator with close to a million followers on Weibo.
Zhou said that unlike schools in other countries, Chinese schools did not seem to have language proficiency requirements for entry for foreign students.
He said Chinese schools should follow the lead of major overseas institutions, with most universities in English-speaking countries requiring international students to meet specific language requirements to gain a place.
Those requirements are usually proven through a standardised examination, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the International English Language Testing System.
“With the development of China’s comprehensive strength, more and more countries have closer economic and trade exchanges with China, more and more businesspeople come to China, and more and more students from neighbouring countries study in China,” Zhou said.
Zhou said a Chinese equivalent of the College English Test, taken by Chinese undergraduate and postgraduate students, should be introduced for overseas students in universities under Projects 985 and 211 – two lists of top Chinese universities, similar to the United States’ Ivy League.
He said other universities should not have to impose the same entry barriers, but should require foreign students to gradually achieve the same level of proficiency required by top universities by the time they graduate.
“The standards of accommodation, catering and scholarship for any overseas students during their studies abroad must be consistent with the standards for Chinese domestic students, and all special or [superior] treatments should be cancelled,” Zhou said.