Circular of the Ministry of Education On Undergraduate Foundation Programme For International Students on the Chinese Government Scholarship Programme

Updated : 2019-02-20Source : Ministry of Education
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Jiaowailai [2009] No. 20

March 13, 2009

To Education Departments (or Education Commissions) of Provinces, Autonomous Regions, and Municipalities directly under the Central Government, the Education Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and Education Sections of other Departments concerned, higher education institutions concerned:

In order to ensure the educational quality of international undergraduate students and to improve the effect of the Chinese Government Scholarship Programme, based on previous pilot projects, and in accordance with the Regulations over Admission of International Students into Higher Education Institutions (hereinafter referred to as the RAIS), the Ministry of Education of China (hereinafter referred to as MOE) decided to launch the Foundation Programme since 1 September 2009 for new international undergraduate students awarded with Chinese Government Scholarships before they begin their disciplinary courses. The specific requirements are as follows:

1. Enrolment and Administrative Duties

The MOE entrusts higher education institutions (hereinafter referred to as the HEIs) with rich experience in international education to launch the Foundation Programme. China Scholarship Council (hereinafter referred to as CSC) is entrusted by the MOE to coordinate routine affairs, such as enrolment and management of the Foundation Programme, to organise syllabus development of compulsory courses and certain optional courses of the Foundation Programme, to arrange the compilation of teaching materials and teaching reference books, and to gradually establish an evaluation system for the complete and dynamic assessment of the students’ academic performance.

2. Target Students

All international students with Chinese Government Scholarships who undertake undergraduate programmes taught in Chinese are subject to the Foundation Programme. However, students who satisfy the following requirements can be exempted from the Foundation Programme:

- Those who submit proof issued by their secondary schools showing that Chinese is the instruction medium in the required courses of their secondary education; or

- Those who hold copies of HSK Certificate (generally valid for two years) that confirm their meeting of the standards set for relevant disciplinary courses.

3. Overall Objectives

The Foundation Programme is designed to prepare target students for their disciplinary studies in Chinese HEIs with a training focus on the improvements of students’ capability in the following three areas, as specified in 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3.

3.1 Communicative Competence in Chinese and in Cross-Cultural Contexts

- Basic Knowledge of Chinese culture and society;

- Communicative skills in the Chinese language to deal with daily life problems;

- Basic Chinese vocabulary and grammar, and necessary vocabulary and commonly used expressions and patterns in Chinese for Special Purposes;

- Basic Chinese competence in listening, taking notes, and raising questions in class for disciplinary studies; and

- Basic reading skills of disciplinary materials in Chinese with the help of dictionaries and reference books, and necessary writing skills for disciplinary studies.

3.2 Chinese Proficiency

- Not lower than Band 3 in HSK for students who apply for courses in science, engineering, agriculture, medical science (exclusive of traditional Chinese medicine), economics, law, management, and education;

- Not lower than Band 6 in HSK for students who apply for courses in literature, history, philosophy, and traditional Chinese medicine.

3.3 Preparatory Knowledge for Disciplinary Studies

- Knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science for students who apply for science, engineering, agriculture, and medical science programmes;

- Knowledge of mathematics and computer science for students who apply for economics, law, management, and education programmes;

- Knowledge of classical Chinese and computer science for students who apply for history, literature, philosophy, and traditional Chinese medicine programmes.

4. Duration of Study

The Foundation Programme usually lasts 1 to 2 academic years:

1 academic year (40 weeks) for students who have no Chinese language skills but who intend to take courses in science, engineering, agriculture, medical science (exclusive of traditional Chinese medicine), economics, law, management, and education;

2 academic years (80 weeks) for students who have no Chinese language skills but who intend to take courses in literature, history, philosophy, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Flexibility will be allowed for students with certain Chinese proficiency.

5. Curriculum Design and Teaching Mode

The Foundation Programme will be conducted in an intensified mode, focusing on Chinese language skills, complemented by basic disciplinary knowledge. The Foundation Programme consists of compulsory and optional courses, the proportion of which will be decided by the HEIs which offer the above-mentioned programme. However, the Foundation Programme must include these four components: language, culture, disciplinary knowledge, and language practice.

- Language courses are composed of general Chinese and Chinese for special purposes, including such lessons as comprehensive Chinese, listening, reading, oral Chinese, writing, Chinese reading in science and technology, and listening and note-taking for Chinese for science and technology, etc.

- Culture courses consist of Chinese culture, general introduction to Chinese society, and cross-cultural communication.

- Disciplinary courses are made up of mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, classical Chinese, Chinese for science and technology (or Business Chinese), and computer science.

- Language practice includes extracurricular activities involving language practice and social surveys.

The Foundation Programme shall include no fewer than 1,120 class hours for the first academic year, and no fewer than 960 class hours for the second academic year.

The general proportion of class hours for different courses is as follows:


Science, engineering,

agriculture, medical science ( exclusive of traditional Chinese medicine)

Economics, law, management, education

History, literature, philosophy, traditional Chinese medicine









Disciplinary knowledge




Language practice





In light of the actual conditions of students, the HEIs offering the Foundation Programme shall formulate localized and campus-based teaching plans and teaching modes.

6. Student Administration

The HEIs offering the Foundation Programme shall carry out administration according to the RAIS. Students’ performance during the Foundation Programme period shall be a main factor for the reviewing of their scholarships and the awarding of completion certificates.

7. Assessment

Nationally unified assessment criteria shall be gradually formulated for core courses on the Foundation Programme, which mainly examine the students’ Chinese language proficiency and basic disciplinary knowledge.

Upon the completion of the Foundation Programme, students who have passed the examinations and the annual review of Chinese Government Scholarship will be awarded with certificates issued by the delivering HEIs. The certificates will guarantee the student's direct admission to relevant HEIs for undergraduate programmes.

8. Selection of Undergraduate Programmes and HEIs

The CSC regularly organises the HEIs offering the Foundation Programme and other HEIs concerned to advise students on the selection of undergraduate programmes and universities.

9. Students who have studies on the Foundation Programme but have failed to pass the examinations shall be disqualified for a Chinese Government Scholarship. However, such students may obtain descriptive proof issued by the delivering HEIs that confirm their learning experiences.

Ministry of Education,

People's Republic of China