A Closer Look at China’s World-Class Universities Project

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A Closer Look at China’s World-Class Universities Project
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Universities included in the previous projects remain included in the new project, and educational inequality between the rich and poor regions also remains prominent.

China’s “Double World-Class Project” was implemented in 2015 with the aim of advancing top-notch universities and first-class disciplines. Tertiary institutions included in the project would benefit from the initiative through increased financial and other resources. The list of tertiary institutions included in the project consists of 42 universities that are qualified to advance into world-class level; and another 95 institutions – including the 42 universities above – to establish high quality programmes.

In the 1990s, former President Jiang Zemin inaugurated two similar initiatives namely the “211” and “985” projects aimed at reinforcing 100 tertiary institutions and key disciplinary areas to boost China’s educational competitiveness globally. As chosen institutions received substantial benefits from the projects, gap between these universities and those of the common public universities widened. It also contributed to the further widening of existing education gap between different regions. Universities in relatively poor provinces became poorer and weakened academically; while universities in more privileged regions became richer with stronger academic credentials. Corruption also became an issue as universities and local governments competed to be part of the project.

Therefore, many hoped that the “Double World-Class Project” would be different, however they were disappointed by the final outcome. Universities included in the previous projects remain included in the new project, and educational inequality between the rich and poor regions also remains prominent. None of the universities located in the few relatively poor regions were included in the list.

The “Double World-Class Project” is a merit-based initiative carried out with the objective of developing the best Chinese universities to world-class status. The project introduces a competition mechanism where underperforming universities could be removed from the list while well-performing universities could be included in the next round of evaluation. However, this still does not solve the severe educational inequality in China which is an issue that deserves greater concern.

Source: The Diplomat

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