Students ride bicycles on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing. The university has been known for training tens of thousands of scientists and engineers for the country since 1949. Photo: AFP

In a sign that China is upping pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) is reporting that Chinese universities are taking steps to limit the number of North Korean students in the country.

North Korean students seeking to major in physics or material science and engineering are reportedly being targeted for rejection. Recruiters at Chinese colleges told the SCMP that they are following orders from the central government in restricting or turning away North Korean students and have placed currently enrolled students under surveillance.

“For those already on campus, we can’t send them back home, but each of them is closely watched and followed by security personnel, or through technical methods, to prevent them from obtaining sensitive materials,” one college official in Beijing said.

“If the [hydrogen bomb] test was conducted earlier, I’m not sure whether they could have made the trip,” he said, adding that his institution would rather stop all enrolment from North Korea as it brings “trouble” to the university.