China will halt the accreditation of foreign diplomas and degrees obtained solely via online courses starting from the 2023 spring semester (or fall semester in the southern hemisphere), as travel is once again possible to major overseas study destinations, the Ministry of Education's Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange said on Saturday.
Since 2020, the center has been accrediting qualifications earned by Chinese students forced to study partly or fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accreditation is key to finding jobs in China.
However, as the pandemic continues to recede in major overseas study destinations and in China and borders are once again open, the center said it will soon put an end to these temporary measures.
It stressed that China has never recognized purely online diplomas and encouraged students to return to their places of study as soon as possible given the differences between university schedules in different countries.
In cases where a university is only offering online courses for the new semester, students should get in touch and make plans to return to campus for the following semester.
Additionally, students encountering difficulties in getting a visa or booking flights can temporarily continue to take online courses until procedures are finished.
Those in their final semester must confirm with their universities whether they can return to campus, and if not, must prepare written evidence in order to have their qualifications recognized by the center.
Students still unable to return in the new semester due to force majeure require written proof, and must submit this when seeking accreditation.
Students in Ukraine and are unable to return for the new semester because of the war, may attend courses online, while students in Russia similarly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, may also have their qualifications recognized, the notice added.
Students who have chosen to study online for the new semester and who are not allowed by their universities to change this decision can still have their diplomas recognized, the center clarified in an additional notice issued on Sunday.