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8 Apr, 2016

China Unveils First Report on Quality of Higher Education

Beijing, 7 April 2016, (Xinhua) – A new national report on the quality of higher education in China has been released, suggesting more needs to be done to develop an ‘innovative spirit’ among Chinese college students.

Research for the latest report began in 2012, as a joint effort among China’s Ministry of Education and a number of leading Chinese universities.

Experts from well-known schools, including Tsinghua University and Peking University, have assessed the basic conditions and management of China’s higher education institutions.

Wu Yan with the Ministry of Education says the schools were allowed to do their own evaluations.

“For well-established universities, we used audit-like assessments and appraisals to see their development, traditions and special features. In other words, we helped them to measure themselves against their own standards.”

Main criteria considered by the report include the accomplishment of training objectives, educational resources, and the satisfaction levels of both the students and employers.

The final product incorporated “Big Data” research methods, referencing findings by more than 4,000 education experts and education quality reports from more than 700 higher education institutions, among other national data.

The report notes China currently has the most student seats in the world, at 37 million.

Those seats are scattered among 28-hundred-24 institutes of higher learning, which is the 2nd largest number in the world.

This means an average of 2 out of every 5 students who graduate high school every year in China will go on to post-secondary education.

Chinese authorities hope to increase that number to one in every two high school grads by 2019.

But one main issue of concern is the quality of education  being provided.

Wu Yan with the Ministry of Education says the new report highlights certain areas to help educators better serve their students.

“We want to solve problems concerning teachers’ skill levels, as well as textbooks, talent cultivation and teaching content, or what we call the last mile of education, to benefit the students and provide high-quality graduates for employers.”

Right now more than one-third of China’s undergrad and graduate level students major in engineering, and about 90% of the nation’s schools of higher learning offer engineering courses.

Wu Yan with the Education Ministry says engineering is one key area Chinese authorities want to continue to focus on.

“We classified engineering as a special section in our report because of its importance to China’s higher education quality, industrial and manufacturing development, as well as its key role in the ‘Made in China 2025′ plans.”

China’s central authorities released the “Made in China 2025” plan last year, which is designed to increase the country’s manufacturing abilities, so factories can transition to turning out high-end products.

The report also highlights certain areas that urgently call for improvement, including a low success rate of converting research projects into professional applications.

The report also included surveys of employers who have hired recent graduates.

Those surveys have found many employers are generally unsatisfied with their new hires’ practical skills and professional ethics.

Wu Yan says Chinese education authorities are working to fix that.

“In the future we will work closely with industrial and trade sectors to create training plans and procedures, as well as an evaluation process to review the results.”

The Ministry of Education already has a platform which allows both graduates and employers to submit their evaluations of colleges and universities.