As of 2019, China hosted around 2,240 Sino-foreign joint programs and institutions, involving over 600 Chinese HEIs and 800 foreign partners from 40 countries.
“A joint program in one destination may help limit the complexity… but it significantly changes the nature of the degree”
The UK alone has seen 205 programs and 29 institutions approved by the Ministry of Education as of June 2020, with a further 113 projects approved by provincial governments for vocational education.
While around 57% of programs approved by the MoE still use the “3+1” model (three years of studying in China, one year of studying abroad), the number using “4+0” (where students do not spend any time abroad during their studies) models has reached 38%.
The report credits this to “the gradual tightening regulations on the approval and management of the Chinese-foreign cooperatively-run programs, and a desire to keep students in host institutions.”
“While doing a joint program in one destination may help limit the complexity of the operations of the programs in practice, it also significantly changes the nature of the degree,” the report’s author noted.
In 2018/19, 78,175 students were on TNE courses in China, up from 49,680 in 2013/14.
However, with the new school year due to start shortly, some TNE providers and other international education stakeholders in China – including international schools and English language centres – are struggling to get their staff back into the country.
At the end of March, China gave a 48-hour warning that the border would be closed to all foreign nationals, voiding existing visas and residence permits.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China has said the “inability to repatriate foreign staff” is a key challenge hindering business operations for 55% of their members. While there are now some provisions to allow educators and university staff back into China, staff must also apply for new visas and undergo quarantine.
“Prices have skyrocketed to over $3,000-5,000 per seat for long haul flights”
The Association of China and Mongolia International Schools noted that almost 4,000 teachers and dependants in their member schools are trying to enter the country, and that “prices have skyrocketed to over $3,000-5,000 per seat for long haul flights due to social distancing and most passengers flying one way”.
They estimate allowing all 250,000 “foreign experts” seeking entry to the country to enter would take at least 16 weeks based on the number of flights and quarantine hotels available at present.
Flight restrictions under the Five Ones Policy (one airline, one country, one route, one flight, one week) also mean that it is not possible to fly into Beijing and many other destinations.
For some areas, this can mean staff need to quarantine for 14 days in the city of arrival and then do additional quarantine after travelling to their final destination.
Many TNE programs have shifted to staff teaching online from abroad or utilising local staff and international ones who have not left the country (some have complained that their days have been extended and periods needed for planning classes are being used to cover for missing staff).
In June, Jisc launched a pilot project platform with Alibaba Cloud for transnational and international students in China to help them access UK learning materials.
Other institutions, such as China’s joint venture universities, have been able to secure the return of their staff with government support.
Chang Xiaolin, vice chancellor for government relations at Duke Kunshan University, said that they were “the first university in Jiangsu province to secure special visa invitations for all our foreign faculty and staff,” including DKU’s dean of students, the dean of interdisciplinary strategy, the dean of undergraduate studies, and the director of graduate programs.