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 the Foreign Languages School of the Central Military Commission 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, management and education. 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 has schools, departments and centers dedicated to teaching and research, including some newly established in recent years. That group includes a teaching materials department, the first of its kind in domestic universities, Beiwai College, the School of International Organizations, the Graduate School of Education, the BFSU Artificial Intelligence and Human Languages Lab (BFSU•AI), the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture and the BFSU Research Centre for Country-specific Translation and Interpretation Capacity. 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 has 52 research bases at national, provincial and ministerial level, including one key research center on humanities and social sciences under the MOE (the National Research Centre for Foreign Language Education), one laboratory on philosophy and social sciences under the MOE (BFSU•AI), one research center under the State Language Commission (the National Research Centre for State Language Capacity), 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). The university also has one Beijing municipal key research center for philosophy and social sciences and one Beijing municipal research base for managing education by law. BFSU was listed as one of the first national language promotion bases and Beijing municipal research centers and bases of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and named the collaborative innovation center for theoretical research on socialism with Chinese characteristics among Beijing universities.
BFSU publishes four CSSCI source journals (Foreign Language Teaching and Research, Foreign Literature, International Forum, and Foreign Language Education in China), two CSSCI Extension source journals (International Sinology and Russian in China), seven other Chinese academic journals, an ESCI English journal (the Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics) and 11 other foreign language journals, published in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German and Portuguese. 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, 46 of which are exclusive to the university nationwide, and 33 of which are national first-class major construction sites. 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 included in the "double world-class project", and rated A+ in the fourth national discipline assessment in 2017, the highest rating in China. Its foreign language education was approved as an advanced discipline at higher education institutions in Beijing. According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022, BFSU’s linguistics and foreign languages and literature programs rank 60th and 150th to 200th respectively. BFSU has more than 5,800 undergraduate students, 3,700 graduate students (master’s and doctoral candidates), and 1,200 international students.
BFSU attaches great importance to its faculty’s academic development. It now has over 1,300 full-time Chinese faculty and staff as well as close to 200 foreign teachers from 60 countries and regions. BFSU’s faculty include winners of the Friendship Medal of the People's Republic of China, prominent teachers known nationwide, 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, Yangtze River Distinguished Professors and Young Yangtze River Scholars. Over 90 percent of the teachers have experiences of overseas study. The faculty of the National Research Centre for Foreign Language Education and the talent training group for global governance and international organizations were accredited as a "model university teaching team exemplified by physicist and educator Huang Danian".
BFSU has signed exchange and cooperation agreements with 324 universities and academic institutions from 81 countries and regions. It has launched cooperation programs with many renowned foreign universities, including Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, Heidelberg University, Moscow State University, the University of Toronto, Waseda University, and Nanyang Technological University. BFSU also works as a partner with foreign universities to operate 23 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in 18 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas, the highest numbers among domestic universities. These Confucius Institutes and Classrooms can be found 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), 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), at Maryknoll School (United States), and at the Open University (United Kingdom). Among them, seven have been awarded as global modal Confucius Institutes.
The BFSU Library has collected approximately 1.53 million volumes of books, more than 2.16 million e-books, 1,123 periodicals, and 102 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 developed software platforms such as a multilingual official website, a smart registration platform, a data center, and online teaching and teaching resources platforms. It has built intelligent classrooms as part of a good learning environment, attaining remarkable results. In 2021, the university completed the pilot work under the first round of MOE programs to promote AI application for faculty development in Chinese universities, and released BFSU Initiatives on Empowering University Teachers through AI Technology. It has also built the World Language Museum and a new University History Museum, creating language and cultural landmarks and showing its multi-directional development path.
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, BFSU continues to pursue development through talent training, academic studies and global exchanges, implements moral education, and cultivates interdisciplinary talents with patriotism, international perspective and professionalism. It also accelerates construction of a future as an international, characteristic, high-level and comprehensive world-class foreign studies university, and strives to promote China’s global presence so that the world can come to better understand the country.