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Mainland univs urged to reform amid brain drain
Latest Updated by 2006-07-19 10:18:58

China's universities are seeking effective reforms to boost their level of education amid concerns that the most talented high school students are choosing to study outside the Chinese mainland.

This summer, more than 30,000 students swarmed to apply to study in six Hong Kong-based universities that could take only 1,000 freshmen from the mainland.

Mainland newspapers cried out that the mainland's top two universities, Beijing University and Qinghua University, once "the holy land" for the top students, would soon decline.

Universities outside the mainland are gradually being allowed to enroll more undergraduate students from the mainland, a sector that was once off-limits.

A couple of the best students in China have turned down offers of prestigious mainland universities to go and study in Hong Kong.  (Details) The lure of high quality teaching, generous scholarships and bright job prospects are often too great.

And an on-line survey conducted by one of China's largest Internet news websites found that 66.5 percent of the respondents preferred Hong Kong Universities to institutions on the mainland.

"For our mainland students at undergraduate level, two thirds will seek employment in Hong Kong or pursue graduate courses overseas, with only one third choosing to return," Lap-Chee Tsui, Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, said at an international education forum in Shanghai.

Tsui said his school, in this year alone, received more than 10,000 applications from the mainland for only 300 places.

Speaking globally, the mainland's universities lag behind on aspects such as school facilities, faculty quality, campus culture and school structure, said Cai Dafeng, vice president of Shanghai-based Fudan University.

"As education globalization accedes, talents will continue to leave the Chinese mainland to seek better education," Cai said.

Liu Zeting, a 19-year-old high school student, turned down Qinghua University for a place at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) after interviews with both.

"There was no interaction between the teachers and me in the Qinghua interview. The teachers at Qinghua kept asking me academic questions, while teachers at HKUST asked me to talk about myself and allowed me time to raise questions," Liu said.

"The exodus to Hong Kong might be just the first step. As China's education system further opens up to the world, the competition will be much more fierce," Cai said.

At the 3rd Chinese-Foreign University Presidents Forum, 143 university heads gathering in Shanghai criticized the shortcomings of the country's current higher education system and exchanged views on ways to save China's higher learning institutions amid global competition.

China has the largest number of college and university students in the world at 23 million. Despite continuous reform efforts, educational experts said the current system still had many defects.

University presidents blasted rampant academic fraud, criticized teaching approaches and an inappropriate evaluation system, and called for stronger government funding for high education and scientific research.

"Problems in university education have severely stifled great talents," said Zhu Qingshi, president of the Chinese Science and Technology University. "Fortunately, Chinese educational circles have come to realize it and are making efforts to bring about change."

Nurturing innovative talents and reforming universities are expected to be painstaking and time consuming, but we have the determination and courage to take the challenge to strive for a better future for our universities, said Vice Education Minister Zhang Xinsheng.

"We will first enhance liberal arts education at undergraduate level to train our students into problem-solvers with innovative thoughts, who also possess high ethical standards and leadership qualities," Zhang said. "This will be a historic move in our higher education reform."

Editor: Wing

By: Source:China View website
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