Higher Education in China

As a student spending more than 20 years in China, I want to talk about the higher education in China from two aspects. One is some basic information about Chinese education, and the other is some personal experiences I had and my viewpoints about it developed during my education in China.

Some facts and numbers:

  • China education is the largest education system in the world. According to the latest data (2015) of China Ministry of Education, there were 2845 higher education institutions in China, including public and private institutions, enrolling 23.91 million students.
  • Xiaoping Deng resumed the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (Gao Kao) in 1977. A growing number of students have been taking the test since then. In 2015 there were 9.42 million students taking Gao Kao.
  • Investment in education accounts for about 4% of total GDP in China in 2015.
  • Until 2014, more than 377,000 international students from 203 countries or regions  are enrolled in over 775 higher education institutions in China.
  • “211 Project”: 100 universities in the 21st century. “985 Project”: 10-12 world-class universities. Investments from the government in these key public universities are much higher than others.
  • Tuition fees are waived for students in the six national normal (i.e., teacher education) universities since 2007.

Some of my experiences in Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) (“211” and “985”, a top 5 university in China ):

  • The government does invest a lot of money in higher education. We have a very large campus and many fancy facilities. We have a 3-D printer in our main library that can print for students for free. I study in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. Our wave tank is highly-equipped and ranks second among all the wave tanks in the world, only after the MARIN tank in Holland.
  • Our campus life is full of fun. Other than six buildings of restaurants on campus and numerous off campus, we have a life center that sells all kinds of things including computers, books, snacks etc.. The barbecue restaurant at this life center never closes before midnight. Every semester, we have this event called “the Hundred Regiments”, in which all student organizations have a desk of their own and recruit. Organizations include debate team, dancing club, chess club, comics club, etc.. I joined about 5 of these organizations. From my point of view, unlike the Greek life in VT, these organizations are more diverse and inclusive.
  • There’s little finance problems for students in college. The tuition fee is low. More than 50% in my department can get scholarships and we have other kinds of stipends for low-income students, too.
  • Our president morning-run with us every semester! He’s the nicest president!
  • While I had the happiest four years in my life in my undergraduate there in SJTU, I have to admit that the biggest problem for me, and probably for most of the undergraduates in China is that we pay less attention to schoolwork once we finished Gao Kao, which is the most difficult and important test in our life according to our parents and teachers. The high requirements for entering college do not keep going to ensure the high quality of graduated students from college.

To conclude, our higher education is booming but we have our problems, too. But  I love our college life and I’m confident that it’ll get better and better.

Leave a Reply