Archive for ‘university’

07/04/2017

Prestigious Chinese university to open campus in Oxford despite ideological crackdown at home | South China Morning Post

One of China’s top universities is preparing to open a campus at the heart of British academic life, just months after President Xi Jinping called for Chinese universities to be transformed into strongholds of Communist party rule.

Peking University, an elite Beijing institution where Mao Zedong once worked as a librarian, will open a branch of its HSBC Business School in Oxford early next year, financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday.

The school is setting up camp in Foxcombe Hall, which it recently purchased for a reported £8.8 million (US$11.97 million). The 19th century manor was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.

Peking University said courses at its Oxford campus, which is not connected to the University of Oxford, would focus on “professional knowledge of China’s economy, financial market and corporate management”.

Wen Hai, its dean, said Peking University had beaten off competition from three rivals, including an unnamed Oxford college, by offering a “very tempting price” that left the sellers “little room to say ‘no’”.

Wen said the university had been able to do so thanks to its close ties to China’s Communist Party. Those connections allowed it to “to expedite the transfer of money transfer needed for the acquisition” despite tight capital controls imposed by Beijing in an attempt to stop firms and citizens shifting large sums of money overseas.

Last summer’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, which has seen the pound plummet against the Chinese yuan, will also have helped the buyers.

Caixin said the university’s decision to expand into the “city of dreaming spires” came as Beijing pondered ambitious plans to boost the global standing of China’s top universities. Peking University, currently ranked the world’s 29th best university, had been handed billions of yuan by the government to “improve its research facilities and recruit teaching staff from top universities abroad to boost its international profile”, it said.

International schools in China attract more pupils

Prestigious British schools have set their sights on mainland China over the last 15 years with public schools including Harrow, Dulwich College and Wellington all opening spin-offs. British universities have also made moves into the mainland, where it is now possible to study at campuses operated by the University of Nottingham and the University of Liverpool. Last month the University of Leicester said it would open a campus in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.

Peking University described its Oxford campus, designed for students from both Europe and China, as “a bold step” and “an important milestone for the development of China’s higher education, given its inferior position globally over the past century”.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities,” Lin Jianhua, its president, said in a statement.

The acquisition comes a few months after Xi, whom liberal scholars accuse of presiding over a severe clampdown on freedom of expression, declared Chinese universities should be party “strongholds”.China’s top colleges to face ideological inspections

Echoing a 1932 speech by Joseph Stalin, Xi called teachers “engineers of the human soul” whose “sacred mission” was to help students “improve in ideological quality [and] political awareness”.

Mainland China now has two universities in the world’s top 40, according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Even so, senior Communist party leaders have looked abroad to educate their offspring.

Xi Jinping’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard while Bo Guagua, the son of jailed party chief Bo Xilai, studied PPE at Balliol in Oxford where he built a reputation as an inveterate party animal.

“[It was like when] you take the cork out of a champagne bottle and it explodes for a bit,” Andrew Graham, the college’s former master, told the BBC in a recent series about the scandal-hit Bo family.

Source: Prestigious Chinese university to open campus in Oxford despite ideological crackdown at home | South China Morning Post

25/08/2016

TV Show Spotlights Middle Class Anxieties in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A hit Chinese TV drama that tells the story of three families who sent their young teens to study abroad has surfaced middle-class doubts about their future in the country.

“A Love for Separation,” based on a novel by Lu Yingong, started screening last week and grabbed the public’s attention despite competing with the Olympic games for viewers. Users on the cultural website douban.com gave the show an average score of 8.2 out of 10.

Some critics say it reflects a widespread anxiety among China’s middle class: they constantly feel insecure and believe that the only way for their children to get a better life is to leave China and pursue their dreams elsewhere. The story line has triggered discussions about the country’s test-based education system and about “tiger” mothers, fathers and teachers. Many scenes of domestic conflict in the show center around the children’s test scores.

In one clip circulating on social media, Fang Duoduo, a ninth-grader, yells at her father, “You want respect from me? You only treat me like an exam machine!”

In this still from the TV show “A Love for Separation,” the character Fang Duoduo’s mother helps with her homework late at night.

PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Stress about the highly-competitive gaokao, or college entrance exam, is one of the reasons why some parents would rather send their kids abroad to study.

In the show, Duoduo’s mother tells her, “If you can’t make sure you in the top 100 right now, you won’t enter a key senior high school. If you can’t enter a key senior high, you won’t enter a key university. If you can’t enter a key university, you whole life is done.”

In China, college admission hinges on the gaokao, which can only be taken once annually. Competition is so intense that parents would do anything to make sure their kids’ sail through the exam without interruptions. Last summer, a Sichuan family made headlines when it emerged that a mother hid from her daughter news of her father’s death for nearly two weeks until she’d finished taking the test, for fear it would influence her results.

The show reflects a “collective anxiety” among the middle class, the writer Huang Tongtong said in an article on her public WeChat account.

“Do you sometimes feel like everything you own is so fragile? Is it merely a fluke that you have the kind of life you live? Do you have the confidence that your children can live a good life? These are the questions that each one of us has to face,” Ms. Huang wrote.

Frustrated with a rigid education system and a growing list of grievances, more and more well-off Chinese parents send their children away when the children are increasingly young. More than 520,000 people left China to study abroad last year, up nearly 14% from 2014, according to China’s education ministry.

In a survey of 458 Chinese millionaires by China Citic Bank and Hurun Report, 30% of them said they plan to send their children to attend senior high schools overseas, while 14% of them said their children should leave at a younger age, for junior high school.

In the U.S. alone, Chinese students make up about half of the 60,815 foreign pupils in high schools and 6,074 in primary schools.

“The show makes me so sad. I used to argue with my parents all because of my scores. Study is the most important issue in my family. Only study study hard, there was never love and care,” said one user on the Twitter-like Weibo platform in China.

Source: TV Show Spotlights Middle Class Anxieties in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

30/06/2016

Why You Need Near-Perfect Exam Scores to Bag a Place at the University of Delhi – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s prestigious University of Delhi on Wednesday released the grades students need to study at its various colleges.

With an excess of qualified students and a limited number of places, India’s universities have famously stringent exam-score requirements.

The University of Delhi is no exception. To get one of the 99 spots on offer for Ramjas College’s undergraduate business degree, Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) program, students this year need to have scored 99.25% in their senior-year exams. That’s the highest the so-called “cut-off,” as the score requirements are popularly known, has peaked to in the first round.

While the minimum score for admission to the university’s over 55 programs doesn’t demand a perfect 100% from students this year, they need to be pretty close.In the past, university administrators have said they raised the percentage requirements for students because they receive inflated scores in their school leaving exams. This year, for instance, an estimated 90,000 students across the country secured more than 90% in their exams. Until three years ago, there were less than half that number of students in that category.

There are about 54,000 spots available on the programs across the University of Delhi’s 61 colleges. Administrators say they have received an estimated 250,000 applications this year.

The score is an average of a student’s best results in four subject areas, including a language. Scores tend to be lower for applicants from marginalized and backward classes, who have a certain number of spots set aside for them under the federal affirmative-action program. And, colleges do slash score requirements as they invite students to apply in a second round of admissions, depending on the number of places available.

Rajendra Prasad, the principal of Ramjas College, told television news channel NDTV that fixing the requirement at 99.25% this year was a “calculated risk” to attract the finest students. Mr. Prasad added that the second round of admissions might bring the score requirement down marginally by at least 1%.

The university’s other famous colleges, such as the Shri Ram College of Commerce and the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, which started a trend of asking for a 100% score from students in 2011, have set their requirements slightly lower. Both colleges demand a 98% score from students to qualify for admission onto their Bachelor of Commerce program.

Despite their efforts, colleges across the university remain saddled with the number of applications. The university moved a preliminary registration process to an online platform this year that has contributed to the swelling of the applicant pool. Until last year, students could register to apply through forms available offline as well.

“Streamlining the process has led to more students applying when the number of seats has remained the same,” said Muneesh Kumar, a member of the academic council at the university.

Source: Why You Need Near-Perfect Exam Scores to Bag a Place at the University of Delhi – India Real Time – WSJ

03/06/2016

The class ceiling | The Economist

NO CAR may honk nor lorry rumble near secondary schools on the two days next week when students are taking their university entrance exams, known as gaokao. Teenagers have been cramming for years for these tests, which they believe (with justification) will determine their entire future. Yet it is at an earlier stage of education that an individual’s life chances in China are usually mapped out, often in ways that are deeply unfair.

To give more students access to higher education, the government has increased its investment in the sector fivefold since 1997. The number of universities has nearly doubled. In 1998 46% of secondary-school graduates went on to university. Now 88% of them do. About 7m people—roughly one-third of those aged between 18 and 22—now gain entry to some form of higher institution each year.

China’s universities offer more opportunity for social mobility than those in many other countries, says James Lee of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. But the social backgrounds of those admitted have been changing. Until 1993, more than 40% of students were the children of farmers or factory workers. Now universities are crammed with people from wealthy, urban backgrounds. That is partly because a far bigger share of young people are middle-class. But it is also because rural Chinese face bigger hurdles getting into them than they used to.

The problem lies with inequality of access to senior high schools, which take students for the final three years of their secondary education. Students from rural backgrounds who go to such schools perform as well in the university entrance exams as those from urban areas. But most never get there. Less than 10% of young people in the countryside go to senior high schools compared with 70% of their urban counterparts. The result is that a third of urban youngsters complete tertiary education, compared with only 8% of young rural adults.

One reason is that junior high schools in the countryside are far weaker academically than urban ones. Local governments invest less in them per student than they do in cities. Urban parents tend to be better educated and thus better able to help children with their studies. Rural pupils often suffer from a “poverty of expectations”, says Jean Wei-Jun Yeung of the National University of Singapore: they are not encouraged to think they can succeed, so they do not try to.

Expense is a huge deterrent for many. Governments cover the costs of schooling for the nine years of compulsory education up to the age of around 15. But at senior high schools, families must pay tuition and other expenses; these outlays are among the highest in the world (measured by purchasing-power parity). Many students drop out of junior high school—which is free—because rising wages in low-skilled industrial work make the prospect of staying at school even less attractive. Millions enter the workforce every year who are barely literate or numerate. Poor nutrition is also a handicap. Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Programme has found that a high incidence of anaemia and intestinal worms in rural areas affects educational performance.

Since the 1990s more than 200m people have moved from the countryside to work in cities. Many have left their children behind because of the difficulty of getting them into urban schools: the country’s system of hukou, or household registration, makes it hard for migrant children to enjoy subsidised education in places other than their parents’ birthplace.

But migrant children who do attend schools in cities usually get a worse education than their city-born counterparts. State schools that accept migrant pupils often operate what Pei-chia Lan of National Taiwan University refers to as “apartheid school models”. In these, migrant children are taught separately from urban ones in the same school, and are even kept apart from them in the playground. Since they are forced to take senior high-school exams in the hometown of their hukou, many have little choice but to return to the countryside to attend junior high school.

Source: The class ceiling | The Economist

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