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Universities scour globe for top leaders to build reputation

Xu Jingxi and Su Zhou
Updated: Feb 26,2016 10:18 AM     China Daily

A few pioneering Chinese universities have kicked off global recruitment efforts to encourage applications for jobs as deans and department chairs, aiming to build global competitiveness.

As more senior university management positions become available for foreigners, the government should work out policies to ensure their benefits, said education experts.

Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, is seeking to recruit deans, chairs and academic leaders from across the globe for the schools and departments expected to be built on its Zhuhai campus. Open positions include chair of the departments of history, Chinese and law, and dean of the schools of government and life sciences. The initial contract will be for four years.

Universities including Shenzhen University in Guangdong province and Nantong University in Jiangsu province are also providing management and teaching positions to global candidates, offering annual salaries as high as 1.2 million yuan ($184,000).

Wang Xuehua, head of the Talent Development Office at Sun Yat-sen University, said this is the largest global recruitment project involving senior positions since 2003, when the university established an open recruitment mechanism.

“This recruitment is mainly for the newly established Zhuhai campus,” Wang said, adding that 50 resumes from around the world have been received. Recruitment will continue until the job vacancy is filled.

“Global recruitment at our university has a long history. In 2017, we will start another round of recruiting deans, chairs and academic leaders from across the globe for the schools and departments expected to be built on our Shenzhen campus,” Wang said.

In the past, senior management positions at colleges were mainly filled by internal promotion as well as from within the Chinese education system. Public recruitment mechanisms generally have not been widely adopted yet, let alone searches for foreign talent.

In March, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs vowed to remove career barriers for top foreign talent eligible to work at research institutions, colleges and universities-a move expected to make more opportunities, such as research projects, accessible to highly qualified foreigners.

Zhang Jianguo, director of the administration, said China will encourage the establishment of a global recruitment mechanism.

Luo Teng, human resources director at Sun Yat-sen University, said unlike foreign professors, foreign deans need to meet special requirements because of the different job responsibility.

“Besides evaluating candidates’ academic performance and global influence, we will also focus on their understanding of our university and the academic situation in China,” she said. “Applicants should be familiar with the development of their discipline in China. They should know the talent team situation of our university and have plans for further development. They should also have an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the discipline in China and a development plan.”

Luo said a Chinese vice-dean will help foreign deans in daily work.

Besides more job opportunities, many foreign employees also want equal welfare with their Chinese counterparts, especially those who want to stay in China on a long-term basis, Luo said.

“With more and more foreign talent choosing to work and even retire in China, there is an urgent need for government policy to ensure they can also enjoy welfare benefits, such as retirement or medical treatment, just like their Chinese colleagues in colleges, universities or enterprises,” Luo said.

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