The Ministry of Education is banning universities from recruiting students based on gender.
The new regulation, released on Thursday, comes as universities and provincial admissions offices begin recruiting high school graduates after they took the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, in early June.
During a conference on Thursday about the admission of the Class of 2014, the ministry released a number of recruitment regulations, one of which banned schools from determining enrollment ratios based on gender.
This is the first time the ministry has addressed gender in its regulations, although the issue has attracted a great deal of attention recently. Over the past two years, several colleges have been accused of lowering their minimum entrance-exam scores for male applicants.
The Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Center, an NGO that focuses on women's rights, said the practice allows schools to discriminate against female candidates.
"Many colleges, including prestigious ones, have set different admission grades based on gender without reasonable explanations," said Lyu Xiaoquan, a lawyer from the center.
Lawyers filed a query in 2012 asking the ministry to reveal what majors are allowed to have gender-ratio enrollment plans.
In its response, the ministry said some colleges are allowed to determine enrollment ratios based on gender for certain majors because it would be in consideration of national interests.
Zhang Ting, a teacher at Beijing No 5 High School, agreed with the ministry's ban on gender discrimination.
"The regulation reaches true equality principles, which will benefit all students equally," said Zhang, who also added that it is understandable that some universities have gender requirements for some majors.
"It reflects market demand. It is better to clarify the need when entering universities instead of recruiting thousands of students who cannot land jobs after graduation," Zhang said.
Zhou Haipeng, who graduated from college two years ago with a degree in Arabic studies, echoed Zhang's sentiment.
"In Arabic countries, many local people feel more comfortable working with men," said Zhou, who added that male graduates with his major had an easier time getting a job.
"The majority of my classmates ended up working in companies related to the Arabic world," Zhou added.
The regulations also tighten requirements on so-called independent recruitment, which looks at students based on factors such as sports achievements and artistic talent rather than their performance on standard entrance exams.
Under current regulations, for universities that enjoy preferential policies on independent recruitment, less than 5 percent of the total annual recruiting class must be independently recruited students.
High school teacher Zhang hopes the newly released regulation can standardize independent recruitment to "select true talents" instead of "opening the back door for people with power and money".