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administrationYangcheng Evening News reports: “Students are tigers, professors are immortals, and the university president is a dog.” Tsinghua University President Chen Jining  used this metaphor to describe the anti-administrative trend in higher education recently while acting as a representative to the National People’s Congress. The comments left many internet users speechless, some feeling that the comparison was too self-effacing, others feeling it was an attempt to drum up sympathy. How can we properly interpret the comment, “the University president is a dog”? On March 13, representatives from the National People’s Congress and committee members from the CPPCC interviewed by Yangcheng Evening News expressed different opinions on this issue.

 

A dog needs people to feed it and listens to its master

“The phrase sounds a bit vulgar, but it’s really right,” said the NPC representative from Huanan Agricultural University, Vice President Wu Hong to Yangcheng Evening News reporters. According to Wu, the former President of Zhongshan University Huang Daren said, “I am the president of the department heads, not the president of the professors.”

Wu Hong believes that “dog” has two levels of meaning. At one level, “dogs need people to feed them”, and schools are dependent on the students and teachers within them. A school can’t improve without high-quality teachers and students with good grades, and a university president can’t get a raise until a school improves.  On another level, “dogs serve their masters, they do what their masters tell them to do.” On campus, the specialist status of professors is indeed higher than that of a president.

Wu Hong says that comparing professors to immortals is explaining how they remain aloof. “There are differences between dogs and humans, and there are differences between humans and immortals. Immortals can be blindly worshiped by people, they’re a kind of mythical thing. Although they don’t actually exist, they are the representatives of wisdom. Professors posses wisdom, and immortals are unapproachable. We worship them, and don’t even talk about university presidents. That’s how I understand his words.”

But to Gu Yeli, CPPCC member and Vice President of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, this analogy is not at all a suitable way to describe the manager that is a university president. Dogs and immortals can’t be compared.

 

It’s hard to downgrade administration

Wu Hong told reporters, “A university is a small society. It needs management, but it’s not the same kind of administrative management used in actual society. An administrator wants operations to be under the control of its own students and faculty, and strengthens scholarship and academics for that purpose. But if every administrative department and function in a school is discarded, a school will fall to pieces.”

“University professors are in fact the masters, and a university president must listen to them.” Wu Hong said that development of academics and research, as well as the evaluation of academic results, are all decided by experts, and that a university president’s main responsibilities are focused on logistics. It is a role wholly focused on service. “The everyday lives of students and faculty are managed by the university president, who deploys resources according to need, takes care of all the different functional departments within the school, facilitates academic research, and at the same time serves the students and professors.”

As for the issue of anti-administrative trends, Gu Yeli feels that it is not at all “anti-administrative”, and that management is necessarily administrative, but that academic administration is different. “A university is an academic community, and necessarily revolves around academics, but what does administration bring? Our university leaders are provincial-level cadres since our school is a provincial-level work unit. There are levels of management, and management can’t get away from their levels. In a way, you could say, their eyes can only look up, and up is just not where [the people in] a school are. We should look down to see a school, look at professors, students, and teachers. But because of the current levels of administrative division, administrators can’t focus on the right people. Those are the facts.”

Reporters found that there have already been large advances in higher education anti-administrative reform. For example, at South China Agricultural University,  not a single member of the academic committee is a Communist Party member, and professors can judge academic questions completely based on their own abilities and backgrounds. The academic degree committee contains five Communist Party members, and the academic advising committee has only one. Guangdong University of Foreign Studies has a voting system for the members of their academic committee, with a strict ratio of cadres among their leaders, slowly working toward the modernization of their university system.

 

Source: http://daxue.163.com/13/0314/18/8PUQKGMI00913J5R.html

Original Publication Date: 3/14/2013

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neworientalST Daily reports: “Every year, we find 50 students at PKU from poor families living in remote areas of China and help them complete their studies. This year, we found selecting people truly difficult. There are fewer and fewer children coming from poor families in the distant countryside. I don’t think their standard of living is rising this quickly.” These were the words of New Oriental CEO Michael Yu while discussing educational equality issues, an issue that came up within his own life.

Mr. Yu has previously stressed in previous guest blogger columns that “China must put great effort into using its educational resources to benefit the countryside and outlying areas. Whether in terms of facilities, human resources, or internet infrastructure, we have to dedicate ourselves to the future of these areas, and let the children in countryside and mountain villages come into contact with the outside world, build their dreams, and get into good universities.”

 

The number of students at nationally administered universities is growing, but are there really no poor students at PKU?

Michael Yu was born in a farming village in Jiangsu. In 1980, he took the gaokao three times, and through this painful experience, eventually was admitted to PKU’s Western Languages department. This experience left him deeply sensitive to issues of equality in access to educational resources for children from the countryside.

“An area’s economic development is directly tied to the level of education received by the people in the area. Students from peripheral areas of China should actually have access to the country’s best educational resources. Only after they successfully complete their studies can they work to bring prosperity to their homes.”

Mr. Yu believes education can change a person, a family, and even more, builds a base for regional development. However, in recent years, China’s top-tier schools such as PKU, Tsinghua, and Fudan have accepted fewer and fewer students from economically underdeveloped areas.

An investigative piece in The Beijing News showed that in 2012, the number of local Beijing students attending Tsinghua stood at 45.3%. There were 810 local Shanghai undergraduates at Fudan, equal to 1/3 of the class. Students from Beijing were significantly more likely to get into PKU than students from other provinces: odds were 41 times better than students from Anhui, 37.5 times better than students from Guangzhou, 35.7 times better than students from Guizhou, and 28 times better than students from Henan.

“I don’t believe that these students have higher IQs than that of students from the countryside,” strongly stated Mr. Yu in his comments about regional imbalances in university admissions rates.

The 985 and 211 Projects at the turn of the century [aimed at building world-class universities across China], involved the participation of local finance ministries in building up nationally administered universities. The local governments put up the funds, and so they required the schools to pay them back. University recruitment has turned into a kind of economic balance sheet, and this has guaranteed that economically poor provinces are unable to succeed in their educational endeavors regardless of their will to do so.

As for this “debt of gratitude” style relationship between local governments and nationally administered universities, Mr. Yu feels that there’s no way to avoid current trends, but that the situation has become too unequal.

 

Localized gaokao tests divide and classify people: best to have a unified nationwide test

Many local governments have made changes in order to rectify the current disparities between the city and countryside, including localized gaokao tests. But Mr. Yu believes that these localized tests are not the best strategy for fixing educational inequality.

“They actually end up dividing people. One type is local citizens, ones who actually live in a certain place. They can take the localized gaokao, but they’re not the ones who will be able to make real contributions to the development of their areas. The ones who can make these contributions are families living in Beijing without Beijing hukou. The children have lived in Beijing for many years, but for various reasons have not been brought into the system.” Mr. Yu estimates that 40% or more of Beijing’s GDP is produced by individuals without Beijing hukou, but that perhaps only 5% of these people quality for localized gaokao tests.

After analyzing the situation, Mr. Yu suggested that “the gaokao should be turned into a unified nationwide test, and the unified test scores plus quotas of students from various regions should be used to find the best-performing students nationwide.”

“Beijing students could go to Fudan or Zhejiang University to study. There wouldn’t be any new inequality and protectionism.”  Mr. Yu feels there is no need for radical reform, only an enduring trend toward equality, to even the playing field for educational resources nationwide.

Committee member Ge Jianxiong, a professor at Fudan University, feels that simply relying on localized gaokao tests isn’t enough to resolve issues of educational inequality. Planning is needed at the top levels of government since nationally administered universities are ultimately subordinate to the Ministry of Education, and local governments do not have the authority to manage them.

“Nationally administered universities should recruit students from the entire country and shouldn’t be limited by quotas. No matter if they are in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, or Beijing and Shanghai, students should be allowed to take the gaokao. Whether or not they have the ability to test into schools is their own personal issue.” Professor Ge thinks that this is the way to guarantee equality in applying to universities.

 

Original publication date: 3/5/13

Source: http://edu.163.com/13/0305/19/8P7PP50N00294JD0.html

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Are PKU and Tsinghua Becoming Second-Rate Schools? High Schools Start Study Abroad Classes & Top Students Go Abroad for College

January 26, 2013

Original date of publication: August 26, 2010 When the new semester starts next month, some Beijing high school students will be attending a different type of class– a foreign joint-venture curriculum program, colloquially referred to as a “study abroad class”. Unlike the past two years, when the city organized study abroad classes for third-year students […]

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