Central China Normal University is one of the earliest institutions of higher education in China to receive and train international students. In the 1960s, it began recruiting its first batch of international students from Vietnam and other countries. This opened the prelude for the university's international students education. In March 1999, with the approval of the Ministry of Education, the university resumed its qualification to accept Chinese Government Scholarship students. It became one of the first 22 Chinese Education Centers in the country established by the former Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council. This opened a new chapter in the university's international education. In the same year, the university established the "International College of Chinese Language and Literature", which was in 2004 renamed as the "College of International Cultural Exchange". This college is specially responsible for the affairs of international students/scholars on campus (including preparatory students, undergraduate students, masters and doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars), International exchange student management and education and the scientific research of Chinese as a foreign language. In order to further rationalize the international student management system and improve the service level, in 2013, the university established the International Student Liaison Office, which is located within the college of International Cultural Exchange. Since then, the university's international education has entered a new era of steady and rapid development. Over the past 20 years, our university's international education and Chinese language education have achieved leapfrog development.
In 1999, we enrolled 32 international students from 18 countries. In 2005, the university invested about 120 million yuan in building an international cultural district. The college had a new look, and the conditions for running the college had improved greatly. The number of international students enrolled in that year alone reached 593. In 2007, the university received approval by Hanban as part of the first batch of 24 pilot units to carry out the professional degree education of "Master of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages". In May 2008, the university was approved by the International Department of the Ministry of Education as an institution that can independently recruit masters and doctoral degree students from the Chinese Government Scholarship program.In March 2009, the university was again approved by the International Department of the Ministry of Education as part of six Chinese Government Scholarship Preparatory Education Centers. In July of the same year, the university was endorsed by the Confucius Institute Headquarters as one of the first batch of institutions that can accept "Confucius Institute Scholarship" students. 14 masters international Chinese language education students enrolled in the first phase of the program. Since then, the university has continued to increase its investment in publicity, and the school's international influence has rapidly increased. By 2016, the number of international students in the university achieved a historic leap, from 32 students from 18 countries in 1999 to 2,917 from 146 countries.
In March 2017, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security jointly formulated the "Administrative Measures for the Admission and Training of International Students in Schools" ("Order No. 42"), and in September of the following year, the Ministry of Education promulgated the "Quality of Higher Education for International Students in China" Specifications (Trial Implementation)". The issuance of these two documents marks the transition of studying in China from scale expansion to quality improvement. In line with the spirit of the document, the university has shifted its focus of international student recruitment and training to attracting high-quality international students and optimizing the student source structure. The university regards countries under the “Belt and Road Initiative” as key student source markets, and as such the coverage of student source countries is stable. Since 2018, the proportion of students from the "Belt and Road" countries in the university has remained stable, where about 70%-80% of the international students study in the university. In addition, in 2022, international students taking degree programs in the university accounted for 88% of the overall number of international students on campus, an increment of 50% as compared to 2017’s 38% of degree international students. In recent years, the data comparison shows that the proportion of international degree students in the university has been on a continuous increase, and the degree structure is continuously being optimized. The major enrollment has increased from a few majors such as language training and Chinese in 1999 to different disciplines in 21 colleges and departments.