Susan Porter Robinson is a vice president of the American Council on Education, which calls itself the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions.
She wrote what she called:
‘A snapshot of higher education in China that has significant implications for U.S. higher education.’
Confucius has shaped the overall Chinese mindset for the past 2500 years. In the early 1950s, all higher education was brought under government leadership and research was separated from teaching. The government also introduced a central plan that nationally unified instruction plans, syllabi, and textbooks.
In recent years, 10 universities have been targeted by the Chinese government to become ‘world-class’ — including Peking and Tsinghua Universities.
Universities are once again required to be centers of teaching and research, and internationally oriented programs constitute an increasing proportion of curriculum. Still, a national oversight body accredits only a disturbing 5% of the Chinese equivalents of our community and technical colleges.
Because there was no academic degree system in China until the 1980s, only 30% of faculty there holds postgraduate degrees. Recently, internationally trained scholars have entered the faculty with the goals of both improving quality and strengthening global ties. But more home-grown professors are needed.
There are some 4,000 Chinese institutions. Even so, the Chinese higher education system is still not meeting the needs of 85% of the college-age cohort. In a country of 1.3 billion people, such numbers are astronomical.
To this end, top universities now function as centers of excellence that drive the entire higher education system to a higher level. One helpful model includes twinning projects where leading universities ‘twin’ with poorer ones to provide equipment, curricula, and faculty development.
Obviously, China’s demand for post-secondary education is considerable, and the country currently cannot keep pace with this compelling need. Thus, U.S. universities can and perhaps should play a more significant role by increased partnering with Chinese universities; more aggressively recruiting Chinese students to study in the U.S.; boosting the exchange of scholars; and adding to the number of U.S. universities already in China.
Source: American Council on Education