Engineering education in China has made a “significant contribution” to the country’s economic takeoff, and online courses in the field are benefiting engineering students around the world, the head of UNESCO’s International Center for Engineering Education said on July 15.
Yuan Si, executive director of the center, said China has gradually built up a complete engineering education system and has trained many as it has developed its economy over the last few decades.
“China now has the world’s largest engineering education system and has a huge reservoir of engineering talent,” he said at the Second International Forum for Online Engineering Education, which was held in Beijing. The theme for this year was “No Boundaries: Promoting the Global Sharing of Online Engineering Education Resources”.
The UNESCO center, which was unveiled in Beijing in 2016, is committed to promoting quality and equity in engineering education across the globe.
According to the Ministry of Education, more than 1,100 Chinese universities — about 94 percent — offered engineering majors at the undergraduate level this year, with engineering students accounting for about one third of all undergraduates.
China is also the biggest contributor of engineering graduates worldwide, with 38 percent of the world total in 2012, according to a 2016 report by the National Science Board in the United States.
Yuan, who also heads the online education and research center of the Ministry of Education, said that the massive open online courses — known as MOOC — from Chinese engineering universities have provided inclusive and quality learning opportunities for college students globally.
The courses are beneficial “especially for those from developing countries,” he said, adding that MOOC is an innovation in traditional engineering education that is reaping significant benefits.
China has seen major development of MOOC platforms over the last few years. According to the Ministry of Education, there are more than 10 MOOC platforms in China, providing 3,200 online courses — which makes China the world’s largest online provider.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, 144 million people had taken up online education as of June last year.
XuetangX — a MOOC platform run by Tsinghua University — has worked with the University of Lagos in Nigeria to build its own MOOC platform, and 18 online courses from Chinese universities have been available on that platform, radiating out to the whole African engineering community, according to Li Chao, CEO of XuetangX.