Opinion | CPC plans to uplift China's universities into world-class level
By Augustus K. Yeung
In our divided world, the US and NATO are politicizing issues instead of solving conflicts and creating employment opportunities, especially for third-world countries to alleviate their perennial problems of poverty.
The collapse of the Soviet Union could have been a golden opportunity for the world to safely siphon its financial and human resources from preparation for war to infrastructure buildings like China has been studiously doing.
Unfortunately, in decades past NATO in Europe has been expanding eastward into Russia's sphere of influence, Ukraine, leading to the current conflict.
This conflict in Eastern Europe has wrecked millions of families and has created just as many refugees, causing food shortages and skyrocketing gasoline prices, and manufacturing economic hardships for millions of working-class people all over the world.
Since Donald Trump became president, the US has been fueling tensions targeting China, a rising economic power, forcing the nation to continuously construct high-speed railways crossing borders to ferry its goods instead of relying on the traditional logistics of seafaring and cost-cutting containers. And now Joe Biden seems to be bashing Beijing in ways more brutal than his archrival.
China has no better way other than to drastically change its higher educational institutions in quantity and quality, creating talents and conducting research studies.
The following excerpt is a plan that the CPC has authorized for the nation.
Beijing Has Made No Secrets about the Plan to Lift Its Universities to World-Class …
Beijing has revealed an expanded plan to lift its universities to a world-class level and nurture a wide range of disciplines as part of its push to create a higher education sector to cope with the complexity that China is facing.
The plan listed 147 universities and more than 300 of their disciplines, from science and engineering to social sciences, that should be developed to become "first-class".
It is meant to catapult more universities and disciplines to the top by 2030. The plan was released by the education and finance ministries along with the economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.
The ministries said the goals were to develop top talent for the country, boost competitiveness, internationally, serve national strategic needs and encourage cross-disciplinary research, with the government set to increase investment in scientific and new cross-discipline subjects.
The plan is part of a national vision to become a global educational power by 2035. Last year, the education ministry designed 12 top universities to establish new faculties focused on building the country's advantage in frontier technologies, at a time when it faces increasing trade and technology pressures from the United States.
The Plan Reveals the Nation's Grand Vision to Become a Global Educational Power …
"The task of building world-class universities with Chinese characteristics and bringing up the overall level of higher education is still very arduous," read a document that came with the announcement.
"Although the first set of goals has been achieved, the progress still falls short of the expectation of the Communist Party and people. We will continue to select advantageous tertiary institutions and grant them certain authority to designate key disciplines."
The first two universities to decide on disciplines they want to further cultivate will be Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing, according to the plan, which said the intention was for the institutions to shoulder responsibility and create a policy environment in which they could join the world's elite.
Peking and Tsinghua were the only two mainland universities in the top 100 of four prominent global rankings for the world's top educational institutions in 2017, when the country first announced the plan to turn selected colleges into world-class seats of learning.
Since then, other mainland institutions have joined those global lists, including Shanghai Jia Tong University and Fudan University in Shanghai, Zhejiang University, and the University of Science and Technology of China, in Anhui province.
The 331 disciplines listed in the new plan comprised 180 engineering-related subjects, 59 basic science including mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and 92 related to philosophy and social sciences, such as ethnology, drama and film studies and Marxism studies.
The disciplines were chosen for their performance and the country's needs, according to the plan. (Source: SCMP)
As America's leadership is on the decline, accelerated by the intense rivalry between the Trump-led Republican and the Biden administration's Democratic parties, it is time that China should get prepared for the responsibility of guiding a world amid chaos and conflicts.
The need for a new world is there, and the timing is right for setting such a grand vision in motion.
The plan's emphasis on multiplying the number and upgrading the quality of universities sounds encouraging; however, the CPC which initiates and authorizes the plan must entertain the possibility that there may-be something more critical than is currently planned.
For example, the authorities need to study the management problems of China's existing universities, including staff competency, alleged corruption charges and a host of issues such as independent thinking if the result of higher education is to reach the expected first-class caliber.
There was a story in circulation that a female professor in one of the Party schools had made an offhand remark, praising Canada's social welfare system. And she was reportedly criticized by her superior, who lost her pension as a punishment, according to newspaper reports.
Beyond doubt, the success of the CPC is built on party organization, cadet loyalty and obedience; it is also true: "If there is no CPC, there will be no modern China."
By any means, however, intra-party democracy must be respected: The superior could have turned her controversial statement into a research question, assigning her to conduct a thorough study for a deeper understanding of the situation, and intraparty discussion, with the belief that the Chinese will overtake Canada tomorrow – the same way that we overtook the UK.
In building world-class universities, China's higher-education curriculum must embrace curiosity and critical thinking.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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