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Higher Education in Post-Mao China

Higher Education in Post-Mao China

Michael Agelasto
Bob Adamson
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    Higher Education in Post-Mao China
    Book Description:

    Since the death of Chairman Mao in 1976, China has embarked upon the Four Modernizations reform programme that has transformed the social, economic and political landscape of the world's most populous nation. Higher education has been ascribed a key supporting role and has itself undergone major reforms. This book looks beyond the articulated goals and accomplishments of the modernization of higher education in China. It delves into the grass roots reality and identifies the true achievements, the unintended outcomes and the major obstacles that still have to be overcome. Incorporating twenty chapters from the new generation of scholars from inside and outside China, Higher Education in Post-Mao China presents in-depth analyses of the impact of educational reforms on tertiary educators, the curriculum, the economic structure, women, and students' values and aspirations. In conveying the Chinese experience of higher education reform over the past two decades, this book makes a major contribution to contemporary sinology and comparative education.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-153-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. About the Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiv-xiv)

    • 1 Editors’ Introduction
      (pp. 1-10)
      AGELASTO Michael and ADAMSON Bob

      The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is home to the single largest indigenous population in the world. The sheer size of the PRC’s natural and human resources has enabled the country to occupy an increasingly important position internationally as a socio-economic and geopolitical force. After the death of the nation’s founding father, Mao Zedong, the PRC’s growing stature as a global power has accelerated since the government’s shift from isolationist, politics-oriented policies to open door, economics-oriented policies. This shift was accompanied by major reforms in higher education, which was ascribed a key supporting role in the drive to modernize the...

    • 2 Reforms in the Administration and Financing of Higher Education
      (pp. 11-27)
      CHENG Kai-ming

      This chapter presents an overview of higher education reform in the PRC, focusing particularly on finance and administration. Finance is always a central issue in the PRC’s education reform. Education reforms have started with the decentralization of the financing system; with it comes reform in many aspects in education. Higher education is no exception. However, while the reforms in basic and technical/vocational education are based on a localization of finance, higher education remains very much a central, or at most provincial, endeavour.

      Much of education reform in terms of structure and scale is derived from the reform Decision of 1985.¹...


    • 3 The Strategic Role of Faculty Development and Management
      (pp. 29-58)
      CAO Xiaonan

      Since the mid-1980s, the focus of educational reform in the PRC has not diverged (at least in theory) from the goal of producing more and better qualified people to meet the demands of the Four Modernizations.¹ This mission is especially evident in higher education — in particular, at the top echelons of the ‘training-ladder’ of qualified personnel (zhuanmen rencai). Faculty members have become the centre of attention due to their crucially important role in the modernization process. Indeed, since educational reform aims to raise both the quality and level of education in the population, university faculty members are charged with...

    • 4 Chinese Scholars and the World Community
      (pp. 59-78)
      ZHONG Wenhui

      This chapter analyses the participation of Chinese scholars in the world community since the PRC opened up to the world in the late 1970s. The first section presents a statistical overview of Chinese scholarly publishing in the international context in order to highlight the progress made in increasing the visibility of Chinese scholarship. The second section offers a critical analysis of the problems which Chinese scholars face in their effort to become full members of the international community. The first part is based on bibliometric studies which compare the output of scientific publishing between different countries, while the second relies...

    • 5 Returns to Education The US/PRC Visiting Scholars Programme — 1978–88
      (pp. 79-98)
      SHORESMAN Michele

      This chapter examines the impact of the US/PRC Visiting Scholars Programme which allowed mid-career professionals from the PRC to undertake advanced training abroad. The academics discussed in this study were in their forties or fifties and spent at least one year in the USA between 1978 and 1988 at the University of Illinois, a comprehensive, multi-campus state university with strengths in engineering, physical and life sciences, and computer science. These are the disciplines in which approximately two-thirds of all PRC scholars sponsored by the Chinese government have studied.¹ Almost 400 universities in the USA had five or more visiting scholars...

    • 6 Modernizing Science Through Educating the Elite
      (pp. 99-119)
      CAO Cong

      In embarking on the Four Modernizations, the PRC placed intrinsic importance on science. Following the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, the nation’s leadership decided to emphasize scientific research and to increase the number and quality of scientists. This endeavour was undertaken through many strategies, including the developing of the scientific élite.

      The making of scientists is affected by several factors, among which education and performance serve as the two defining criteria for the status of scientists.¹ Of course, the relationship between the two criteria is not causal: a higher educational level does not necessarily guarantee better career performance. The effect...


    • 7 Educational Utilitarianism: Where Goes Higher Education?
      (pp. 121-140)
      LIU Yingkai

      Throughout history, Chinese people have been characterized by their utilitarianism. In traditional culture, utility was put above everything else, as illustrated in the expression, ‘Gear one’s study to the art of government and practical use (jingshi zhiyong).’ The purpose of study was not personal academic development but ‘cultivating oneself, administering state affairs and ensuring national security (xiushen qijia zhiguo pingtianxia)’. The goal of education was not to create thinkers and theorists of the exploring kind, but instead, people ‘to order and regulate the affairs of the state (jingbang jishi zhe)’.¹

      In the 1950s the value of utility began to find...

    • 8 Modernizing English Language Teacher Education
      (pp. 141-164)
      ADAMSON Bob

      This chapter examines the consequences of the Dengist educational reforms for English language pre-service teacher education. It focuses on contentious topics (viz., that the English language embodies foreign influence) and on key aspects of modernization — teacher education plays an important role both in upgrading the quality of teaching and in supplying sufficient personnel to support the expansion of basic education. The central theme of the chapter is a case study of a teacher education college from the initiation of reforms in the late 1970s. It charts changes in the English language curriculum and discusses related issues, such as staff...

    • 9 Agricultural Universities: Engines of Rural Development?
      (pp. 165-188)
      KULANDER Greg

      Agricultural universities worldwide have always been more pragmatic than comprehensive or liberal arts universities. Their mission is clear: to systematize and develop agricultural science and technology for use in production by farmers, thereby improving both rural living standards and the national economy. This holds true for Chinese agricultural universities as well. ‘Vitalizing Agriculture with Science and Education’ (ke jiao xing nong) has been a popular slogan in the Chinese press since the early 1990s. It signals the general desire of policy-makers to increase the direct net social benefits of science and higher education, in order both to rationalize investments and...

    • 10 Higher Adult Education: Redefining Its Roles
      (pp. 189-210)
      XIAO Jin

      Soon after the twin policies of the Four Modernizations and the Open Door were initiated in the late 1970s as the means for achieving economic transformation, demand for human resources soared. However, the education system revealed its incapability of rising to the challenge to produce well-trained personnel in huge numbers. To address this problem, the PRC government adopted a ‘walk-on-two-legs’ strategy to develop a large education system by expanding formal education enrolment and building up an adult education system.¹ This system, which represents a structural change in education, has been characterized by a fast, but uneven, expansion and diversified structure...


    • 11 Stratification Trends in Technical-Professional Higher Education
      (pp. 211-236)
      SEEBERG Vilma

      This chapter looks at contemporary trends in Chinese society as it undergoes the transition from isolated bureaucratic socialist state to player in the global economy.¹ We examine whether, in the transitional times of the late 1980s, the advantaged social strata were passing on their status to the next generation by means of higher education of the technical-professional kind. Two types of research were used to examine enrolment patterns as predictors of social and economic changes in the PRC: qualitative analysis of interviews and statistical analysis of a stratified, random sample sociological survey.² The findings of the quantitative analysis are statistically...

    • 12 Changing Conceptions of Equity and Student Financial Support Policies
      (pp. 237-258)
      ZHANG Minxuan

      This chapter focuses on the transition from free higher education to a tuition fee-based system in the PRC during the reform period. The former was characterized by grants without tuition fees to all students while the latter may be described as conditioned aid with tuition fees — one with strings attached. By analysing the change in policies, this chapter explores the shift in the conception of ‘equity’ behind them. For data it relies on documents from 1950 to 1995, on limited but useful official statistics and on the author’s survey of 420 students in four universities, two under the SEdC...

    • 13 Graduate Employment: From Manpower Planning to the Market Economy
      (pp. 259-280)
      AGELASTO Michael

      As the PRC moves away from a socialist redistributive economy and towards something that resembles a market-driven system, many aspects of central planning are being replaced with market mechanisms. For most of the past 25 years, a continuously evolving planning process controlled the placement of university graduates into jobs with state-run firms or governmental bureaux. Now, as a consequence of a general trend towards marketization, graduate allocation (biyesheng fenpei) is being rapidly phased out and replaced by a system that allows students, tertiary institutes and employers more choice. Such a system is usually labelled two-way choice or mutual selection (shuangxiang...

    • 14 Privatization or Quasi-Marketization?
      (pp. 281-298)
      MOK Ka-ho and CHAN David

      Since the founding of the PRC, education has been under government control, characterized by the notion of ‘bureaucratic centralism’.¹ In the mid-1980s the CCP began to diversify education, allowing and encouraging the establishment of schools run by the non-state sector. In recent years, private education has been undergoing rapid development, particularly in China’s big cities. Reductions in state regulation, provision and subsidy in education have already indicated that the PRC’s recent educational development marks a move towards privatization and quasi-marketization.

      Instead of relying upon the state’s financial support, educational funding has been diversified with other resources, such as overseas donations,...


    • 15 Mixed Blessings: Modernizing the Education of Women
      (pp. 299-320)
      FAN Carol C.

      This chapter examines the roles of higher educational institutions in shaping women’s lives and the influences women have had on education in the PRC. It will analyse women both as students and faculty staff by considering the characteristics and development of the gender gap in higher education within historical and cultural contexts. Through an empirical analysis based on recent national surveys and other data, it will investigate the political and economic, as well as social and cultural factors, that inhibit the participation and achievement of women in Chinese higher education.¹

      Education has been a central focus of Chinese women seeking...

    • 16 Chinese Educational Reforms and Feminist Praxis: On Ideals, Process and Paradigm
      (pp. 321-344)
      JASCHOK Maria

      This chapter discusses the birth, life and closure of China’s first institution of higher education with a women-centred programme, the Zhengzhou International Women’s Institute.¹ The Institute closed in March 1995, 22 months into its existence, due to larger political issues to be discussed below, but also due to internal dysfunction and ultimately insurmountable contradictions among the parties which established it. Situated in Henan province, the heartland of China, the Institute was set up in 1993 in the provincial capital Zhengzhou by a group of women who were inspired by Ren Hua, a well-known voice among intellectuals in Chinese women’s studies,...

    • 17 Gender Differences in Taiwan’s Academe Implications for the PRC
      (pp. 345-358)
      CHOU Chuing Prudence and CHANG Flora Chia-I

      Throughout the world teaching in higher education has traditionally been a male-dominated profession. Women have been a minority of instructors and professors at colleges and universities, even in countries where women represent over half of the students in higher education. As a minority, women have been segregated into the lower ranks, into part-time teaching and into the less lucrative and ‘female’ fields. Discrimination against women has occurred with respect to hiring, reward, promotion and granting tenure. Women have not been sponsored into the academic profession in the same ways as men have.¹

      This chapter draws from two empirical studies on...


    • 18 Is Lei Feng Finally Dead? The Search for Values in a Time of Reform and Transition
      (pp. 359-374)
      REED Gay Garland

      Periods of dramatic economic and social change are inevitably unsettling; they force upon society unanticipated cultural adjustments which can threaten traditional values and patterns of interaction. This observation, which applies to segments of Chinese society at almost any point in the last century, is especially relevant to the post-Mao era and is manifested in moral education at Chinese universities.

      The title of this chapter — ‘Is Lei Feng Finally Dead?’ — is derived from some common sayings heard on the streets of China since the mid-1980s. It refers to the perception that the socialist values which the hero/role model, Lei...

    • 19 The Limits of Political Loosening: CCP Restraints on Student Behaviour in the Spring of 1989
      (pp. 375-398)
      WRIGHT Teresa

      In many ways, CCP control over college campuses decreased in the 1980s. Indeed, the CCP’s Education Reform Document of 1985 expressly stated that the PRC’s educational problems derived from ‘excessive government control’.² A major component of the CCP’s proposed solution was decentralization; specifically, universities were given more power over curricula and teaching methods.³ In addition, political education in CCP ideology was de-emphasized as the goal of education shifted from the production of loyal communists to the production of ‘advanced specialists’ fit to serve the Four Modernizations.⁴ Concomitantly, political education became less doctrinaire and more tolerant of individual beliefs.⁵

      Yet, as...


    • 20 Editors’ Conclusion The State of Chinese Higher Education Today
      (pp. 399-416)
      AGELASTO Michael and ADAMSON Bob

      In designing this volume, the editors intended to compare the planned goals of Chinese higher education reform with the experienced reality. This proved a task more easily contemplated than accomplished. As we reviewed the literature and gathered prospective authors, we quickly realized that a lack of data presented a major obstacle to achieving our intended analysis. At one level, plenty of data exist. The SEdC is vigilant in the collection, assembly and publishing of statistics. Numbers alone, however, do not give a ‘feel’ for education. For a look at campus life, one often turns to the Chinese media, where frequent...

  13. Appendix Executive Summary of China: Higher Education Reform. A World Bank Country Study
    (pp. 417-434)
  14. Glossary
    (pp. 435-442)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 443-484)
  16. Index
    (pp. 485-492)