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Latest Country Updates
Feb 2, 2024

Streamlining foreign document recognition: China’s historic accession to Apostille Convention

The long-awaited Apostille Convention finally entered into force in China on 7 November 2023. The legalization process for foreign documents was replaced by an apostille by designated authorities in a foreign state. Authorities, including the Beijing IP Court, have responded swiftly.

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May 9, 2023

China plans to allow foreign universities to independently operate in Hainan FTZ

China has released a plan to permit foreign higher education institutions and those from the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions and Taiwan to independently set up and run universities and higher vocational schools in the Hainan Free Trade Zone (FTZ).

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Jun 13, 2022

Record 12M sit for China's annual college entrance exam

According to the Ministry of Education, a record 11.93 million people have applied for this year's exam, known as the "gaokao," an increase of 1.15 million from 2021. Aside from a postponement in Shanghai due to COVID-19, the exam kicked off nationwide.

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Nov 19, 2021

Minister of Education inspects Beijing’s educational reforms

Minister of Education Chen Baosheng inspected Beijing's progress of educational reforms and the CPC history learning campaign.

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Nov 17, 2021

China launches new round of undergraduate education evaluation

China's Ministry of Education has launched a new round of undergraduate education evaluation and assessment for the next five years.

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Jun 29, 2021

Chinese students take crucial 'gaokao' exams in COVID-19 isolation

Teenage COVID-19 patients in southern China bent over test papers and scribbled answers alone in hospital rooms, taking the life-changing "gaokao" college entrance exams despite being in virus-induced isolation.

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Jun 21, 2021

Guangzhou postpones high school entrance exam over COVID-19

Authorities in Guangzhou, the capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, announced that the local senior high school entrance examination scheduled for June 20-22 would be postponed to July over COVID-19.

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Oct 7, 2020

China's international schools struggle as teachers, students remain stuck abroad

China's international schools are reopening this month, but there will be a shortage of teachers and pupils, as they are currently stranded overseas due to travel restrictions and other challenges.

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Sep 2, 2020

Changes in general education curriculum in Chinese universities

The general education (GE) curriculum movement is taking center stage in undergraduate education in China, becoming a mandatory graduation requirement and a core component of the country's university education system.

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Aug 13, 2020

UK universities comply with China's internet restrictions

UK universities are testing a new online teaching link for students in China - which will require course materials to comply with Chinese restrictions on the internet.

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Apr 24, 2020

Gaokao Postponed

Gaokao will be postponed by at least one month according to Ministry of Education. Administration of tests in Beijing and Hubei may be delayed longer.

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Although considered as one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, China’s earliest history is clouded by the lack of any formalized, written documentation. Adding to the lack of a detailed history is the fact that documents from later time periods attributed information to an era that occurred many centuries before. The time elapsed blurred fact from fiction. Mostly from archaeological data, the emerging Chinese culture could have existed as far back as the 16th century BC.

A formalized system of writing was imposed by the Qin Dynasty Emperor in the 3rd Century BC. One hundred years later, the development of a state ideology, based on Confucianism, was created and this occurrence set the foundation for what is now termed the Chinese civilization. The Chinese Culture of today has evolved over the years through the assimilation of conquerors and other immigrant groups.

This was facilitated by China’s location in Eastern and Southern Asia and its size of approximately 3,705,000 square miles. China borders 16 countries from Afghanistan to Vietnam and is the most populous country in the world with about 1.3 billion people.

Before the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, basic education was extremely backward. One of the newly-emerged government’s initial direction was to eliminate illiteracy and to foster the idea of compulsory education. At that time, only about 20% of school-aged children were enrolled and 80% of all adults were illiterate. Today, illiteracy among the young and middle-aged population has decreased to less than 5%.


In 1985, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party issued the “Decision of the Reform of the Education System” which led to the “Compulsory Education Law” in the following year. A 6-3-3 system (6 years primary, 3 years lower-middle and 3 years upper-middle) was established; formal schooling through lower-middle school completes the 9 years of compulsory education. At least 90% of the country’s population has completed compulsory education.

Education in China underwent more reforms during the 1990s. In 1994, the National People’s Congress passed the “Education Law of the People’s Republic of China” outlining the direction and policies of Chinese education into the early years of the 21st Century. As a result, education in China has developed rapidly in the past ten years. The key to the growth of education in China is primarily due to increased national investment. Since 1998, the funds allocated to education have grown one percentage-point annually, and in 2003, the national government fund for education was 349.14 billion Yuan, about 44 billion U.S. dollars.

Currently, education in China is overseen by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. China leads the world in the number of students it sends to other countries for education. Since 1979, 582,000 Chinese students have studied in 103 countries.

Schools operate on a semester calendar and the academic year runs September through June.

Primary Education

Primary education lasts for six years.

Secondary Education

Secondary school is divided into Lower Middle School lasting three years, and Upper Middle School lasting three years. Lower Middle School is also called Lower Secondary School or Junior Middle School and they are all equivalent to the US Junior High School. Upon completion of Lower Middle School, students are awarded with the Lower Middle School Graduation Certificate.

Upper Middle School is sometimes called Upper Secondary School or Senior Middle School and they are equivalent to the US (Senior) High School. Having completed Upper Middle School, students receive their Upper Middle School Graduation Certificate. Access to higher education is based on the Senior High School Graduation Diploma and a very competitive National Matriculation Test.

Post-Secondary Education

First and Second Cycles, Academic

University level first stage study leads to a Bachelor's degree normally after four years of study. University level second stage leads to a Master Degree after two to three years' study following a Bachelor's Degree and the taking of the National Entrance Test for MA/MS candidates, and the defense of a thesis.

There are two different certificates in most cases; graduation certificate and degree certificate. The graduation certificate (Zhuanke or Benke) is given when the required coursework is completed. The degree certificate, on the other hand, is awarded when all other requirements such as foreign language requirements, a thesis requirement, etc. are met in addition to the coursework required for the program. When reviewing credentials for admission, both documents should be requested, if not presented.

First and Second Cycles, Vocational/Technical

Non-university level post-secondary education aims at enabling students to master the basic theory and knowledge and acquiring the basic skills and initial capability for the practical work of their specialty. Students following these courses - provided at university, vocational college or university of adult education - will be conferred diplomas or certificates of graduation. The courses last between two and three years.

Third Cycle

University level third stage aims at enabling students to master firm and broad basic theory, systematic and in-depth knowledge, skills and techniques and acquiring capabilities for independent creative scientific research work in their field. Students following these courses are conferred a Doctor's Degree after three to four years' study following a Master's Degree and the taking of the National Entrance Test for PhD candidates, and the defense of a dissertation.

Teacher Training

Primary teachers are trained in junior teacher training schools where they follow 3-to 4-year courses. Secondary teachers are trained at teachers' training colleges or universities where they follow a 3- to 4-year course.



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