This is the executive summary of a report prepared by students in my Modern Chinese Economic History course in spring 2014.

At that time, every Chinese university was competing to admit foreign students, mostly from Africa and the middle east.  University programs got put together on very short timeframes, with no training for staff and procedures more or less made up on the spot.  The pawns in this process were the foreign students themselves, who often arrived unprepared for college work, unfamiliar with China, lacking any Chinese language, their first time out of the home country, and certainly unprepared for Chinese university norms.   This work was an attempt to bring some efficacy, functionality (rather than efficiency) to the international student program.  Although this report is from 2014, there is no doubt that international programs in China still require upgrading to bring them to a minimal acceptable standard of responsiveness and care.

 Any student looking to attend school in China should read this, at least to get the jist of the boots-on-the-ground feel among foreign students.  This is not to say, do not attend school in China.  But forewarned is forearmed.   The full report is available by emailing me. 


An Evaluation of the Efficacy of the Administration of the International Student Program at Zhejiang University of Science and Technology


                     Prepared by

                     Students of

           Modern Chinese Economic History

        Zhejiang University of Science and Technology



                     Spring, 2014


              William D. Markle, Ph.D. Professor


Participating Students

茅晚菱 Mao Wan Ling

Bogdan Oprea

杜亚芳 Du Ya Fang

严丽文 Yan Li Wen

李亚男 Li Ya Nan

Nikodemus Hermanto

Lukas Cavalcante Baier

杨雪芳 Yang Xuefang

Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Ali

Maingi Joy Nkatha

Dorothy Mutsamwira

沈洁妮Shen Jie Ni

阮芳波Ruan Fang Bo

陈雪Chen Xue

李丹Li Dan

Candy Shirly

Gladis Tshizainga Kasongo

Tariro Kurly Chingarande

章旭霞Zhang Xu Xia

顾盛霞Gu sheng Xia

吴越 Wu Yue

江添 Jiang Tian

Diana Madalina Nemes

Mary Assumpta Muhoza

Golden Chifune

Twagirayezu Didier

Sadick Mahdi Aden

Stefanie Bracher

Martina Odermatt

葛佳锋Ge Jia Feng

张晨凯Zhang Chen Kai

吴雯雯Wu Wen Wen

包舒影 Bao Shu Ying


An Evaluation of the Efficacy of the Administration of the International Student Program at Zhejiang University of Science and Technology


Executive Summary


Zhejiang University of Science and Technology (ZUST) has a long history of cooperation with foreign schools, particularly schools in Germany. While there have been many years of exchanges of faculty for research and lecture purposes, there were no foreign full-time degree candidate students at ZUST until the fall semester of 2009. This is considered the beginning of the ZUST international student program.

In the spring of 2014, there were 392 full time degree candidate foreign students at ZUST. In civil engineering, 167 foreign students; in the School of Economics and Management, in marketing, 47; in international economics and trade, 120; in the Language School, in business Chinese, 47; and a new major, information science, 11 students. First year students in the spring of 2014 numbered 142. There are additional exchange students, mostly from Germany, who stay at ZUST for varying lengths of time, from a few weeks to one year. (source: ZUST International Student Office, personal contact)

International programs are complex, perhaps more for university administration than for university academic faculty. Teachers need to address language barriers and perhaps cultural barriers in class; but administrators must deal with a far broader range of concerns, from admission standards, dorms and living conditions to food and health issues and visa and language and cultural difficulties. 

ZUST has now had an international student program for five years, with a second graduating class this June (2014). It is time to assess the quality of the international student program – is the program working as intended? Are students satisfied with outcomes? Are teachers satisfied with outcomes? What remains to be done to blend the international student program into the culture of a Chinese university? How effective is the program in creating customer satisfaction?

The fundamental goal of this research is to assist ZUST staff in making the International Student Office more effective in serving students, and thereby providing a better experience for foreign students. 

This evaluation addresses the administrative elements of the international student program. We reviewed student experience with health services, postal services, dorms and living conditions, and the international student offices, within the university and the individual department.Individual academic units within the School of Economics and Management and Civil Engineering should address academic quality. But students are the customers, in a real sense, of a Chinese university, and we want to ask whether their consumer needs are being met.

We conducted surveys and interviews of ZUST students, staff, and faculty. We document a wide range of concerns from students, less so from teachers and administrators. This is suggestive, in itself. 

We were also interested in how the ZUST international program compares with that at other schools. While we could not get substantial information due to time constraints, we did obtain good information about the experience of students and administrators. We interviewed students and administrators at two other schools, Zhejiang University and Zhejiang Gongye University (Zhejiang University of Technology).

Many students do not find significant problems in dealing with either the International Student Office in A4 or their department office. Problems that are identified by other students generally are about communications, in various forms.  

Conclusions are described in detail in Chapter 6.  Broadly speaking, we consider three fundamental areas requiring attention –

  • Quality and details in communications with foreign students verbally and in print, by email and text and online

There are difficulties in communication in both directions – Chinese staff to students, and students to Chinese staff. Additional training and techniques are necessary here, particularly for communications that involve student health and safety.

  • Timeliness and trust in communication

There are significant problems in lack of trust in communications from Chinese staff. The problems are attributable to communications that are too late for effective response, last minute requirements, communications that are wrong, and communications that are perceived by foreign students as simply lying. This harms both the administration of the program and academic quality.

  • Management of the International Student Office and department office functions – quality of management and policy direction

There does not appear to be any systematic training for international program staff. Nor can we see program goals, objectives, measures of performance, or an ongoing program of quality improvement.  As ZUST adds more foreign students, these defects will become even more apparent.  By accepting foreign students who are not qualified to be in the classroom, either due to English or preparation difficulties, the International Student Office defeats the purpose of having foreign students at all – to make Chinese students better.  The current model is a business model, not an academic model.

Particular recommendations are described in Chapter 6.