December 8, 2023

After announcing that online foreign degrees would no longer be recognized and instructing students to return to their course provider’s country for the first semester, the China Scholarship Exchange Service Center last week issued further instructions advising students not to worry, if they can’t come back. immediately.

“Please do not worry, you can continue with online classes during the relevant procedures,” CSCSE said in a statement. The authority told students that if they are unable to secure visas, flights or accommodation, they will be able to submit documents to prove this when applying for final certification.

China also clarified that students who are in the final semester of their studies or whose institutions currently do not have the capacity to accommodate additional students will be given the opportunity to demonstrate this to ensure their qualifications are recognised.

In response to the reports, BOSSA, the umbrella agency for Chinese studies abroad, said it had never expected online education to be recognized in the long term and that some agencies had taken advantage of flexible rules put in place during the pandemic.

“Some agencies cheated students with distance learning programs”

“Some agencies cheated students with distance learning programs that were packaged as [Ministry of Education] traditionally recognized foreign study programs,” said Chenxing Sang, Secretary General of BOSSA.

Despite the updated guidelines, data from accommodation providers suggests that Chinese students are trying to return to campuses as soon as possible.

Luke Nolan, founder and CEO of, said the online marketplace has seen a surge in demand from Chinese students seeking housing overseas since the decision.

“We received thousands of inquiries from Chinese students looking to secure accommodation internationally, which is a 75% increase compared to the same period last year,” Noland said, adding that interest in the UK specifically was up 30%.

Similarly, accommodation company Homes for Students saw an increase in Google searches from Chinese speakers across all its brands compared to last year, with its luxury brand up 124% year-on-year.

Universities are trying to make it easier for Chinese students to come to campus. Ula Tang-Plowman, deputy director of international student recruitment at the University of Nottingham, said that while the news was not unexpected, it caught students and institutions off guard.

“China has always been very clear with its stance on online degrees,” she said, adding that the university is doing everything it can to ensure a smooth transition to on-campus teaching.

“This includes quick and clear guidance on CAS and visas, flexibility and support with accommodation options and providing further orientation when students get here.

“However, in the event of complications with visas, flights or accommodation, Chinese students are advised to retain all evidence of the delay and communicate with us immediately so that they can be best supported with their online experience. We understand that CSCSE will take this evidence into account when assessing an application for diploma verification.

Gary Palmer, chief executive of OI Digital Institute and Language at Oxford International Education Group, said: “For some of our students in China, this announcement will bring a welcome end to the uncertain and stressful wait for in-person education.

“However, for many students the prospect of returning overseas can seem daunting. Through our global study locations and presence in China, we support our Chinese students as they begin the next phase of their education.”

Visa processing times have returned to normal in the UK after last year’s delays, but countries including Australia and Canada are still facing significant problems as well as accommodation shortages.

With the first semester starting soon in Australia and with approximately 40,000 overseas Chinese students enrolled in institutions there, demand for visas and accommodation is particularly high. has seen a 60% increase in inquiries for Australian housing from Chinese students. Australian universities said they were working with the government to facilitate their safe return.

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