Helping to program the software of the teacher’s mind – Why China cooperates with foreign universities today
Posted Under: Chinese Education Policy,Chinese Students,Education System
In preparation for a research report named “China Offshore Education report – 2010″ we are collecting motivations and experiences from both foreign universities and students participating in offshore education projects in China. We are also evaluating (and publicising here) motivations of Chinese universities for cooperating with their foreign counterparts, as gaps – if considerable – could result in clashes during project operations.
We asked the dean of one of China’s many finance colleges about the school’s motivation to cooperate with educators abroad. “Ours is the same as the Ministry of Education’s motivation” said the college official initially. But, after revealing how Germany’s motivation has changed over the course of the past 10 years, she opened up by pointing out that “studying the philosophy of teaching” was the major reason for the school to cooperate with foreign universities nowadays. According to her, some French universities required students to study nearly half of the curriculum at partner universities abroad, a rule that helped students develop a global view on many important issues. She advanced by wishing that this model could be adopted in China as well – a request shared by others in China’s education sector.
Being in a long-term cooperation with a French university, the dean revealed that with regard to infrastructure, China was already at the same level with their Western counterparts. She commented that “when visiting the French university in 2003, I found that their Internet was very slow compared to ours here in China; the equipment for making presentations had to be rented and then towed from a remote storage to the classroom – very inconvenient. However, when it comes to the actual teaching, we still lag behind”. China started Internet-based teaching at about the same time as developed countries, and while the Internet needed to be integrated with already existing infrastructure and tight budgets in the West, China’s universities benefited from an almost free flow of monetary as well as top-notch technical resources. Elaborating further on the Western philosophy of teaching, the dean reasoned that “while Western teaching is a dialog and teachers act as enablers of students, Chinese universities still utilise a system of recite and listen” reducing students to mere knowledge acquisition machines rather than assisting them on their way to becoming reflecting individuals.
If, by trend, Chinese universities depend less on support to set up their infrastructure (hardware), but need the operational knowledge (software) to elevate students onto internationally comparable level, there seem to be ample opportunities for foreign universities or complimentary service providers to benefit from this situation.