Strengthening ‘Conformity Management’ for International Students in China

Foreign students in China who habitually skip classes may not only face the embarrassment of not obtaining their graduation certificates but also the serious consequences of having their residence permits revoked, leading to potential deportation.

Recently, the Exit and Entry Administration Brigade of the Liuzhou Public Security Bureau issued a notice regarding a Liberian student named DIXON NAPOLEON K at Liuzhou Vocational and Technical College. The student’s residence permit for study was canceled due to unexcused absences, with more than 60 hours of truancy since October 20, 2023.

This action has garnered unanimous praise online and underscores China’s strict stance on regulating international students studying in the country. Studying in China entails compliance with Chinese regulations, dedicated learning, and refraining from exploiting the hospitality of the Chinese people, let alone expecting any form of “privileged treatment.”

According to the “Foreign Students Language Training Teaching Management Regulations” of Liuzhou Vocational and Technical College, students absent for over 60 class hours face disciplinary actions ranging from probation to expulsion. In this case, the Liberian student’s prolonged truancy triggered the severe penalty of expulsion.

For international students, violations of university rules can trigger legal responsibilities. Chinese laws, such as the “Exit and Entry Administration Law” and the “Regulations on the Entry and Exit Administration of Foreigners,” clearly stipulate the conditions for foreign students staying in China. Engaging in activities inconsistent with the purpose of residence is grounds for deportation, including situations like “illegal residence” or “illegal employment.” Despite holding a study permit, this Liberian student’s excessive truancy indicates a lack of genuine commitment to education, leading to a breach of immigration regulations and, consequently, legal responsibilities.

As early as 2019, the Ministry of Education emphasized the promotion of uniform management for both Chinese and foreign students, advocating strict measures against international students who violate rules. The “Regulations on the Quality Standards for Higher Education for International Students in China (Trial)” also mandates universities to provide education on Chinese laws, rules, and safety to international students, with serious consequences for those who violate rules. The regulations explicitly state that universities must strictly enforce attendance systems, report non-compliant students to relevant authorities promptly, and collaborate with law enforcement agencies if there are suspicions of illegal activities.

Studying in China requires compliance with Chinese laws, and attending a Chinese institution comes with the responsibility of following university rules. The management requirements for Chinese students should apply equally to international students – earning academic credits, abiding by university rules, and maintaining public decency, with no exceptions. This approach is crucial for ensuring the credibility of Chinese university degrees. The recent measures taken by relevant authorities, such as canceling residence permits for students with prolonged truancy, demonstrate a commitment to stringent foreigner management, sending a strong signal about the importance of uniform management for international students.

It is observed that some individual international students fail to appreciate the opportunity to study in China, treating the friendliness of the Chinese people as a “privilege” rather than a genuine gesture. Instances such as the 2019 case of a foreign student in Fuzhou violating traffic rules and assaulting a traffic police officer highlight the negative social impact caused by certain international students. In the case of the Liberian student mentioned earlier, the wrongdoing extends beyond truancy to a violation of residency regulations, constituting a clear breach of the law.

The joint efforts of immigration authorities and education departments to address, lawfully process, and take a tough stance against such incidents collectively send a stringent message about the management of international students and exit-entry administration. This approach contributes to establishing a positive direction for “conformity management.”

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