International Undergraduate Student Recruitment at China’s “Double First-Class” Universities




“Double First-class” universities,, rationales, academic standards, international students


Focusing on the “Double First-class” universities in China, we analyze the recruitment policies of international undergraduate students at the institutional level. Findings indicate that “double First-class” universities have a certain autonomy in determining the recruitment scale and academic thresholds, demonstrating an unevenly set and loosely regulated policy decision making in China with an absence of a national academic standard and coordinative system. We categorize institutional policies at “double First-Class” universities into four kinds: Active-rigorous Player, Active Player, Rigorous Player and Inactive Player. As Active-rigorous Players, the most prestigious universities set admission requirements as strict as that of some research universities in North America. In general, academic rationale and economic rationale are not as important as political and social-cultural rationales in the recruitment policy. China’s HEIs need to maintain a subtle balance among academic, political, economic and social-cultural rationales, with more emphasis put on the quality control of international student recruitment.

Author Biographies

Mei Li

MEI LI is a Professor at Institute of Higher Education, the Faculty of Education of East China Normal University, China. Her research focuses on internationalization of higher education. Email:

Qixia Jiang

QIXIA JIANG is an administrative staff at the Liuzhou Vocational & Technical College. Her research focuses on internationalization of higher education. Email:

Shuli Su

SHULI SU (corresponding author) is a Ph.D. student of the joint education programme offered by HKU and SUSTech. Her research interests include internationalization of higher education. Email:


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How to Cite

Li, M., Jiang, Q., & Su, S. (2022). International Undergraduate Student Recruitment at China’s “Double First-Class” Universities . Journal of International Students, 12(S1), 8–29.