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MOE meeting to discuss hands-on strategy to catalyze the “Double First-Class” Initiative

2018-10-08 14:21:00

On September 28-29, the MOE held a meeting in Shanghai to discuss practical aspects of implementing the “Double First-Class” Initiative, to incorporate guidance from the recent national education conference and accelerate the establishment of “Double First-Class” universities and disciplines with distinctive strengths. Mr. Chen Baosheng, Minister of Education and Secretary of the MOE CPC Leadership Group, and Mr. Ying Yong, Mayor of Shanghai and Deputy Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Committee, attended the meeting and each delivered speeches.

Minister Chen pointed out that the statement of the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping and guidance from the national education conference had both had profound implications for the “Double First-Class” Initiative. Universities involved in the Initiative were expected to play a leading role in the implementation of Xi’s statement and conference guidance. They needed to acquire a deep understanding of the fundamental task of nurturing rounded youth prepared to join the socialist cause, the general direction of improving education to better serve economic and social development, the basic path to achieve top level education through developing distinctive strengths, and the essential mission of ensuring full leadership by the Party. They also needed to realize that China’s higher education was on the verge of reaching world-class status and should therefore be prepared to face unprecedented challenges, which depended on the accelerated development of the “Double First-Class” Initiative.

Chen stressed that the overall implementation of the Initiative had got off to a good start. Moving into the next phase, universities had to set reliable, eligible, truthful, distinctive, competitive, productive and sustainable goals and uphold the principle of “balanced quantitative and qualitative education growth driven by reform and dominated by higher education institutions with distinctive strengths”, accelerating their development based on institutional innovation to deepen reforms, serve needs and expand cooperation.

Specifically, universities had to:

(i) Nurture high quality professionals by focusing resources on undergraduate programs while accelerating the development of structurally optimized, excellent graduate programs with broad stakeholder engagement.

(ii) Serve major needs by detecting stumbling blocks to achieving higher quality training, identifying priorities in scientific research and difficulties in social services and creating new channels for cultural inheritance, to produce high quality human resources, research outcomes and services.

(iii) Improve innovation in scientific research by speeding up scientific research management and evaluation mechanisms in higher education institutions, to generate original and influential research outcomes and positive social impacts.

(iv) Deepen international cooperation and exchange by expanding disciplines, reinforcing substantial cooperation and exchange with top overseas universities and scientific research institutes, and improving international student enrollment, training, management and service systems.

(v) Strengthen the development of teachers, to build a strong workforce of high quality teachers and supervisors and first class teams for each discipline.

(vi) Encourage establishments to sharpen their competitive edge by exploring and creating specialized disciplines that match the needs of target groups and specific training requirements.

Chen added that, universities involved in the Initiative had to reinforce their organizational leadership while pursuing progress in carrying out the Initiative and lead the way in reform, to form synergies that can add momentum to this Initiative. They also had to explore evaluation mechanisms and methods that could guide and encourage diversity in the paths chosen for progress, while building a multi-dimensional evaluation system with Chinese characteristics for first-class universities and disciplines.

Mayor Ying stated that Shanghai had achieved continuous progress in higher education quality in recent years. In 2017, a total of 14 local higher education institutions were enlisted in the “Double First-Class” Initiative. Following the guidance of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era and the national education conference, and in line with requirements set out by the MOE, the Shanghai government would make solid efforts to promote the reform of higher education and examine innovative ways to advance the “Double First-Class” Initiative.

Vice-minister of Education Du Zhanyuan presided the meeting, while representatives from 137 universities, local education authorities, state agencies and the Expert Panel on the Development of “Double First-Class” Initiative participated and gave talks at the meeting.

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