The Ministry of Education wants universities to strictly check the bona fides of the nationality of prospective international students to close admission loopholes.
The ministry issued a rule on Wednesday targeting students who acquired foreign nationality by birth but have studied at Chinese primary and secondary schools and have at least one parent who is Chinese.
Starting from next year, such students should have lived in a foreign country for more than two of the past four years to be able to apply to study at Chinese universities as international students, the ministry said in a notice.
It said another option if they want to be admitted to a Chinese university is to take the highly competitive national college entrance exam, known as the gaokao.
The universities should check the nationality and travel records of such students with entry and exit authorities, it said.
Cases of such students attending Chinese universities as international students have attracted widespread public attention in recent years, it said.
The new overseas residency requirement for foreign-born students matches an existing requirement for students who have acquired foreign nationality through emigration. Those students also need to have held their foreign nationality for at least four years.
Yu Minhong, founder of education consultancy New Oriental Education and Technology Group, said Chinese students have to pass the national college entrance exam to enter Chinese universities, but international students have been admitted based on their test scores in high schools and the HSK exam, a Chinese language proficiency test.
That has prompted some parents to give birth to their children overseas so they can bypass the gaokao, he said.