The latest document on establishing world-class universities and disciplines in China will boost healthy development of universities and help build a more scientific management system for higher education, experts say.
The Ministry of Education, along with two other ministries, has issued a provisional document to implement measures to promote establishing world-class universities and disciplines, clarifying the selection, assessment and management of candidate universities and disciplines.
According to the document, candidate universities are encouraged to develop clear orientations and characteristics in an effort to end the long-standing matter of universities’ homogenization in China.
It is unreasonable for colleges and universities to ignore their special features and rush to become comprehensive institutions for accreditation and access to more resources, according to Xu Fei, president of Southwest Jiaotong University.
In addition, the document stressed development of about 100 disciplines that are approaching or has reached advanced world levels, or concerning national security and major interests.
“No discipline could develop without support from others,” said Lin Jianhua, president of Peking University. The document also encouraged development of emerging disciplines, inter-disciplines and disciplines that meet China’s current needs to bolster industrial upgrades and regional development.
On the other hand, the document is set to break the rigid and uneven distribution of higher-education resources by introducing an assessment system and dynamic management of future world-class universities.
Among the 75 colleges and universities under the Ministry of Education, more than 20 of them are located in Beijing and eight in Shanghai, while some provinces, such as Henan, Hebei and Jiangxi, do not have any university affiliated with ministries, said Liu Haifeng, director of the Institute of Education at Xiamen University.
Setting a five-year period to cultivate qualified universities while launching performance assessments, then weeding out unqualified ones and updating the candidate list for the next five-year period, would be a scientific assessment model, said Su Ming, director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission.
Efforts should also be made to give universities more autonomy and encourage them to speed up building a modern university system, Su added.
According to the document, universities should adopt cultivating talent as their core mission and promote scientific layout of disciplines. This will help stimulate vigor and creativity in universities and personnel, Lin said.