Mutual recognition to attract talent from B&R countries
China has signed agreements with 24 countries along the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative on mutual authentication of academic diplomas and degrees, which experts said will attract more foreign students to China and help provide talent for the initiative.
China has agreed with a total of 46 countries and regions on mutually recognizing educational certificates so far, among which 24 are along the B&R initiative, the China Youth Daily reported on Thursday, citing the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Specifically, bilateral agreements have been signed with eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe, five from East Asia, five from Central Asia, three from the Commonwealth of the Independent States, and one each from South Asia, East Asia and a South African country.
"The ministry will continue to discuss diploma authentication with countries such as Moldova, Cyprus, and South Africa in 2017," said Yan Bingchen, an official from MOE's Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges.
"Mutual diploma verification means that the country recognizes overseas education, which will encourage more Chinese students to study overseas and vice versa," Zhang Weiyong, a Beijing-based expert on overseas education, told the Global Times, adding that talent with diverse cultural background will help meet the demands of national strategy.
Yuan Zhengxiang, general manager of the Shanghai-based OvEdu Center, an agency that assists students with overseas study, said that the agreement will protect Chinese students from choosing fake universities in foreign countries.
According to the MOE, if students with overseas education background want to work in fields of civil service and laws, they have to verify their overseas diplomas.
Many companies in China also need proof for foreign diploma, which functions as a reference for their recruitment, Yuan added. "The agreement will ensure Chinese students get corresponding education verification when they work overseas."
Students from countries and regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt will have a better chance of getting scholarships, as the ministry will support no less than an extra 3,000 freshmen from those countries every year, according to Xu Tao, head of MOE's Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges.
Students from the B&R countries accounted for 61 percent of the overall national scholarships granted to international students in 2016, an increase of 8.4 percent compared with that of 2012.
The number of students from the B&R countries has significantly increased. In 2016, students from the 64 countries covered by the initiative sent 200,000 students to China to study, representing an increase of 13.6 percent compared with a year earlier.
Universities from China have set up four academic institutes and 98 programs in 14 countries and regions as of 2016, most of which are along the B&R initiative. Traditional majors of Chinese literature, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and martial arts have also been launched.
China has granted 141 research projects, half of which are related to the 46 B&R countries, and research programs focusing on B&R, covering 66 B&R countries, Xu added.