Beijing Foreign Studies University, or BFSU, is one of China’s top universities under the direct administration of the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE). It is listed under Project 985, Project 211 and the Double First-Class Project of China. Located in Haidian District, Beijing, BFSU has two campuses which are separated by North Xisanhuan Road — the West Campus and the East Campus.
In 1941, the Russian Language Team in the Third Branch of the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese Military and Political College was set up. It was later renamed as Yan’an Foreign Languages School under the direct leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the School was administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was renamed as the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute in 1954 and merged with the Beijing Russian Institute in 1959. Since 1980, the Institute has been directly administered by the MOE. In 1994, it took on its current name, Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Today, BFSU teaches 101 foreign languages. It houses China’s largest non-general language teaching cluster that offers courses in some less commonly taught European, Asian and African languages, as the first of MOE’s special teaching programs. While best known for its excellence in foreign languages and literature, BFSU has also launched programs in fields such as humanities, law, economics and management. It now offers courses in languages including (in chronological order) Russian, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Romanian, Japanese, Arabic, Cambodian, Lao, Singhalese, Malay, Swedish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Swahili, Burmese, Indonesian, Italian, Croatian, Serbian, Hausa, Vietnamese, Thai, Turkish, Korean, Slovak, Finnish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Norwegian, Icelandic, Danish, Greek, Filipino, Hindi, Urdu, Hebrew, Persian, Slovenian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Irish, Maltese, Bengali, Kazakh, Uzbek, Latin, Zulu, Kyrgyz, Pashtu, Sanskrit, Pali, Amharic, Nepalese, Somali, Tamil, Turkmen, Català, Yoruba, Mongolian, Armenian, Malagasy, Georgian, Azerbaijani, Afrikaans, Macedonian, Tajiki, Tswana, Ndebele, Comorian, Creole, Shona, Tigrinya, Belarusian, Maori, Tangan, Samoan, Kurdish, Bislama, Dari, Tetum, Dhivehi, Fijian, Cook Islands Maori, Kirundi, Luxembourgish, Kinyarwanda, Niuean, Tok Pisin, Chewa, Sesotho, Sango, Tamazight, Javanese, and Punjabi. To better serve China’s diplomatic efforts, it now teaches all official languages of countries in diplomatic relations with China.
BFSU now has 33 schools, departments and centers dedicated to teaching and research, including some established in recent years. These new institutions include an international graduate school jointly run by BFSU and the University of Nottingham (UK), the BFSU Academy of Language Sciences, the BFSU Academy of Foreign Literature Studies, the BFSU Academy of Regional and Global Governance, the BFSU Academy of Comparative Civilization and Intercultural Communication, Beiwai College, the School of Global Governance, and the Graduate School of Education. Furthermore, the School of Asian and African Studies was restructured as two independent schools – the School of Asian Studies and the School of African Studies. BFSU also has one key research center on social sciences under the MOE (the National Research Center for Foreign Language Education), one research center under the State Language Commission (the National Research Center for Development of Language Aptitude), four centers for regional and country studies under the MOE (the Center for Central and Eastern European Studies, the Center for Japanese Studies, the British Studies Center, and the Canadian Studies Center), 37 centers for regional and country studies registered with MOE, and three research centers for people-to-people exchanges under the MOE (the China-Indonesia Research Center for People-to-People Exchanges, the China-France Research Center for People-to-People Exchanges, and the China-Germany Research Center for People-to-People Exchanges).
BFSU publishes four CSSCI source journals (Foreign Language Teaching and Research, Foreign Literature, International Forum, and International Sinology), one CSSCI Extension source journal (Foreign Language Education in China), and other journals (e.g. Russian in China, The Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, International Chinese Language Education, English Language Learning, Germanistische Kulturwissenschaften, Etudes Francophones, Area Studies and Global Development, and Teenager Legal Education). Additionally, BFSU runs the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP), the largest publishing house in China for foreign language books, audio-visual products and digital products.
BFSU offers 121 undergraduate programs, 44 of which are only available at BFSU in China. Having four national-level key disciplines (including cultivation disciplines) and seven municipal-level key disciplines, BFSU has degree programs in six major fields — literature, economics, management, law, education and history, including doctoral programs under two subjects (foreign languages and literature, management science and engineering), master’s academic degree programs under 11 subjects (law, political science, Marxist theories, applied economics, Chinese language and literature, foreign languages and literature, journalism, management science and engineering, industry and business administration, education, and world history) and master’s professional degree programs under eight subjects (finance, international business, Chinese language teaching, translation/interpreting, journalism and communication, law, accounting, and an MBA program). Its foreign languages and literature program was rated A+ in a national assessment in 2017, among the top-ranked in China. According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018, BFSU has two subjects — linguistics and modern languages — ranked among the top 100 globally, higher than other peer universities in China. BFSU has 5,600 undergraduate students, 3,100 graduate students (master’s and doctoral candidates), and 1,600 international students.
BFSU attaches great importance to its faculty’s academic development. It now has over 1,200 full-time Chinese faculty and staff as well as close to 200 foreign teachers from 60 countries and regions. BFSU faculty includes outstanding young experts with national-level contributions, leading talents in philosophy and social sciences under the Ten Thousand Talent Program, outstanding teachers under the Ten Thousand Talent Program, members of the Ten Million Talents Project in the New Century, members of the Four-batch Talent Project, and Young Yangtze River Scholars. Over 90% of the teachers have experiences of overseas study. The faculty of the National Research Center for Foreign Language Education were accredited as a “model university teaching team exemplified by physicist and educator Huang Danian”.
To enhance its international exposure, BFSU works in partnership with 313 universities and academic institutions from 91 countries and regions. It has cooperation programs with many foreign universities, including the University of Nottingham, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), INALCO, Moscow State Linguistic University, the University of Göttingen, Sapienza University of Rome, Eötvös Loránd University, and Jagiellonian University. BFSU also works as a partner with foreign universities to operate 23 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in 18 countries around the globe. The Confucius Institutes and Classrooms include the Confucius Institutes at Nürnberg-Erlangen (Germany), in Brussels (Belgium), at the University of Vienna (Austria), at the University of Rome La Sapienza (Italy), in Krakow (Poland), in Liege (Belgium), at Düesseldorf (Germany), at Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), in Sofia (Bulgaria), at Palacky University (Czech Republic), in Munich (Germany), at the Kongzi Institute for the Teaching of Chinese Language at the University of Malaya (Malaysia), at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (Republic of Korea), at Barcelona (Spain), at Moscow State Linguistic University (Russia), at Zayed University (United Arab Emirates), in London (United Kingdom), at the University of Tirana (Albania), at the University of Göttingen (Germany), at Oxford Brooks University (United Kingdom), at the University of Colombo (Sri Lanka), at ESCP Europe (France), and at Maryknoll School (United States).
The BFSU Library has collected approximately 1.45 million volumes of books, more than 2.22 million e-books, 1,123 periodicals, and 97 databases in Chinese and foreign languages, mostly in language, literature and culture. In recent years, the Library has further expanded its collections into areas of politics, law, diplomacy, economics, journalism and management. It continues to utilize information technologies in building an open, interconnected, smart, innovative and integrated information structure, and has attained remarkable results such as a multilingual official website and the BFSU Online and software platform. Launched in 2015, the multilingual official website offers content in 50 languages. In 2018, BFSU was one of the pilots under a MOE program to promote AI application for faculty development in Chinese universities.
Guided by its motto “Learn with an open mind; Serve a great cause”, BFSU has trained a significant number of professionals with strong language competence who went on to work in and outside China as diplomats, translators/interpreters, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, lawyers, and bankers, among other occupations. In the BFSU alumni community, over 400 have worked as ambassadors, and over 2,000 as counselors. BFSU is thus known as “a cradle for diplomats”.
Today, capitalizing on its long tradition, BFSU continues to pursue excellence in an effort to build a world-class university with Chinese characteristics and cultivate patriotic, high-quality, dedicated and innovative language professionals with international perspectives and critical thinking and cross-culture capabilities.