Zhang Mengchen: How to create a world-class university


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Zhang Mengchen: How to create a world-class university


By Zhang Mengchen   Source: China Daily   Published:2020-11-25

Recently, a number of well-known universities have successively announced the results of expert evaluations on double-class construction. Tsinghua News Network stated that experts commented how "Tsinghua University is a world-class university in an all-around way," and many other universities have also released similar results. In response, Xu Mei, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, responded: "We should clearly realize that there is still a big gap between the overall strength of our country's higher education and the world's top universities."

We are familiar with world-class universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Chicago and Berkeley. Their "first-class" status comes from their reputation. No university in the United States is first-class because of a determination by the US Department of Education, let a university itself.

There are many research institutions around the world that evaluate university rankings, and these ranked research institutions are almost all private. At present, the four most recognized ranking index systems in the world are the US News & World Report Best Global Universities Rankings, Shanghai Ranking's Academic Ranking of World Universities, The Times Higher Education World University Ranking, and the QS World University Ranking System.

Although the rankings of Chinese universities in the world have seen continuous improvement in recent years, the main reason behind this is the publication of papers. There is still a clear gap between Chinese universities and first-class universities in terms of cultivating first-class talent and producing first-class scientific research results.

The quality of running a university should be evaluated by a third-party professional and social evaluation, so that the results are credible. A basic criterion for world-class universities is whether they can attract world-class students to study there. Schools such as Peking University and Tsinghua University can attract first-class students in China, but it is difficult for them to attract world-class students.

World-class universities are not only a sign of the comprehensive strength of a country's higher education, but also an important manifestation of the comprehensive national strength. Whether to have a world-class university is not only an important yardstick to measure the development level of a country's higher education, but also an important factor in the comprehensive national strength of science, technology and the economy.

How can we realize the strategy of building "world-class universities and first-class disciplines" as proposed by our country? How to truly enhance the comprehensive strength and international competitiveness of our universities in order to achieve the ultimate goal of enhancing our country's soft power and comprehensive national strength?

Although there is no absolute standard for judging world-class universities, it is inseparable from indicators such as professors, subjects, students, scientific research and funding.

First of all, there are only a handful of Nobel Prize-winning professors in domestic universities. We urgently need to strengthen the introduction and training of top talent to promote the results of major original scientific research. Talent is always the first resource for development. Without top talent, there can be no world-class universities, and there can be no achievements leading the development of disciplines.

Second, we need to deepen institutional reforms and allow academic freedom. We can choose a number of renowned universities in China to implement management system reforms, give these universities more autonomy, help establish a scientific evaluation system, and create better conditions for the free development of talent.

The author is an assistant research fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

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