Shandong University has apologized for the negative social impact caused by its buddy program that implies local female students will be selected to aid male foreign students who live and study at the school.
The university said in a statement on Friday that online comments on its buddy program aroused public attention recently.
Due to insufficient checks during the implementation of the program, the improper expression, “making friends with foreigners of the opposite sex” appeared on the application form, the statement said.
“We would like to express our sincere appreciation for people from all walks of life concerning the development of Shandong University, and be sincere about the criticism and suggestions of the vast number of netizens,” the statement said.
The buddy program, which was introduced in late 2016, has not been reviewed properly, the statement said.
On Thursday, netizens strongly criticized the program after a Weibo posting said three local students, including women, had been selected to assist one foreign student.
The university denied the claim, but conceded the program had flaws because of insufficient reviews.
“The university will conduct an overall assessment on the buddy program to improve the program’s performance,” said the statement.
The buddy program aims to promote study and cultural exchanges between international and Chinese students, the statement said. Students who join the program carry out activities in teams and students are required to strictly obey its regulations.
The program, which matches students with common interests and hobbies, has been welcomed by both domestic and foreign students, the university said.
“The program is actually a win-win situation for both parties. It’s the best opportunity for learning about new languages and cultures,” Mohammad Rasheduzzaman, a student from Bangladesh studying at the university, said.
A temporary regulation published by the school’s international affairs office in 2016 shows the longest time a student can join the program is one year.
After that the student has to present a written application to continue in the program.