Ministry says impact of pandemic is temporary, intl cooperation to expand
China will continue to open up its educational sector, a new guideline issued by the Ministry of Education and seven other departments said on Thursday.
An official from the ministry's Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges said although the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the global political and economic landscape, and China's development is faced with a more complex external environment, the country remained committed to opening up its education sector.
The pandemic will only have a temporary impact on the country's students going abroad, the official said.
The guideline reiterated that the country will continue to cultivate more talent for its modernization drive by encouraging students to study abroad, and the ministry will continue to expand cooperation with other countries and offer more opportunities for overseas study, the official said.
The ministry has always attached great importance to the safety and health of overseas students and has provided pandemic control and prevention materials, treatment and psychological support for overseas students since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, he said.
Wang Yan, senior specialist at the National Institute of Education Sciences in Beijing, said educational opening-up will contribute to national development by optimizing resource structure, cultivating more talent, breaking barriers of institutional mechanisms and further participating in global education governance.
The country has become the largest source for international students since 2010. In 2018, 662,100 Chinese students went abroad to study, according to the Ministry of Education.
Ran Wei, chief expert for overseas study at New Channel International Education Group, a consultancy for overseas studies, said although the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered students from going abroad, the impact will not be long lasting.
"The guideline shows the country has not changed its stance in opening up the education sector, and we are sure that more students will continue to study abroad after the pandemic wanes globally," he said.
Shen Wei, associate professor of education policy at East China Normal University, said students' willingness to study abroad has been dampened by the pandemic, lackluster global economic development and trade protectionism in some countries.
North American countries, which have generally been top choices for Chinese students, have seen weak growth in the number of international students from China, she said.
China should further diversify destinations for overseas study and promote mutual recognition of diploma and credit with countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, she added.
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