Shenzhen is famous for being the guinea pig for China’s development over the past three decades. It became China’s first special economic zone in 1980 as the government pioneered the nation’s economic opening-up in this former fishing village adjacent to Hong Kong.
Now higher education is the latest area in which the city is blazing a trail for the rest of the country, as it is setting up a university modeled on the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Approval from the Ministry of Education was the green light the new institute of higher learning ― Nanfang University of Science and Technology ― was waiting for. With an eye on the California Institute of Technology and Rockefeller University, the new university in Shenzhen is aiming high as it wants to be recognized as a world-class research institution.
However, there is still much controversy over the new school, as even now the institute does not have permission to enroll students, despite the fact it started interviewing and recruiting students from senior high schools all over the country in December.
The school’s president Zhu Qingshi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues are resolute in their desire to move the school onto a track completely different from other institutes of higher learning in the country.
Zhu stands out as he was appointed by the school rather than the Ministry of Education, which appoints the presidents of other universities in the country. The school has also introduced its own entrance examinations rather than using the national college entrance tests that happen in June.
What makes a good university? Factors such as tangible assets, human resources, university culture and operational system are important. Institutions of higher learning should be geared to the needs of society, run independently and practice democratic management in accordance with law.
The new school in Shenzhen has captured so much attention because many of the nation’s colleges and universities have failed us.
Our higher education has achieved unprecedented progress in the past three decades. But higher education institutions still don’t have a soul. They are busy with expanding recruitment, merging schools, and constructing facilities. They have an official-centered culture and assessment system.
It is too early to predict whether Nanfang University of Science and Technology will herald a new beginning for the nation’s higher education, but it is certainly having a good try.
(Asia News Network)