China’s higher education system from buzai232's blog

China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (also called New China) on 1 October 2019. Despite twists and turns, China has established one of the largest higher education systems in the world. For example, Chinese universities and colleges have accommodated the largest numbers of undergraduate students worldwide, with more than 30 million students on campuses.Educational Leadership training china

China’s gross enrolment ratio for higher education reached 48% of the 18-year-old population in 2018. This indicates that its higher education system will soon offer near-universal access to higher education according to United States sociologist Martin Trow’s definition.

Also, it produced and trained more than 60,000 doctoral graduates in 2018. This number is even larger than that for US universities.

Further, the status of several Chinese universities has kept moving upwards in the major global university ranking tables since the early part of the 21st century. For example, in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, Tsinghua and Peking universities and the University of Science and Technology of China are listed among the top 100, with four other Chinese universities in the top 200.

However, little is known of what the most striking characteristics of China’s higher education are or what higher education systems China has formed over the last 70 years.

Compared to the United States, United Kingdom, European countries and Japan or South Korea, the distinctive features of present Chinese higher education can be practically summarised as follows.
First, all higher education institutions are rigidly controlled and regulated by the central government and especially by the Communist Party. This is not only evident in the relationships between the central government, local authorities and higher education institutions but is also true in governance arrangements and management within all higher education institutions.

All presidents and party secretaries in national universities are directly selected and appointed by the Ministry of Education and other ministries at a central level. The institutional leaders of the local public higher education institutions are determined by local authorities. Even in private universities the party organisations are present and party secretaries are appointed or dispatched by the local government.

At an institutional level, dual governance patterns are adopted. According to the Higher Education Law, all higher education institutions, including private ones, have to establish grassroots-based committees of the Chinese Communist Party.

The party committees are expected to exercise unified leadership over university work and support the presidents and carry out their leadership from the political and ideological perspective, while the presidents exert their influence on more academic and administrative matters. Perhaps this is the most important characteristic of the current Chinese higher education system in relation to governance and administration.

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