Support higher education for sustainable development in China

Chinese students await a conference, September 2, 2011. / CFP

Chinese students await a conference, September 2, 2011. / CFP

Editor’s Note: Alexander Ayertey Odonkor is an economic consultant, chartered financial analyst and chartered economist with a deep understanding of the economic landscape of countries in Asia and Africa. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Higher education institutions play a vital role in achieving social, environmental and economic sustainability. They equip policymakers, entrepreneurs, economists, environmental scientists, urban planners and other relevant decision-makers with the adequate knowledge and skills required to make informed decisions that promote sustainable development.

Therefore, significant improvements in the quality and accessibility of higher education could increase efforts to address climate change, global poverty, inequality and other interconnected challenges such as scarcity of food and education. ‘water. There is a great deal of empirical evidence around the world that indicates the importance of higher education in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, China’s support for higher education for sustainable development over the past decades has been remarkable.

The benefit of supporting higher education with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development is evident in China’s noticeable transition from humble beginnings to being the world’s second-largest economy.

After the country’s economic reforms in 1978, the Chinese government made considerable progress in improving the quality and equitable access to higher education by strengthening access to higher education through the construction of research universities producing cutting-edge scientific research. The country also produces graduates with knowledge, skills, values ​​and attitudes to carry out socio-economic activities that promote sustainable development.

The country is making remarkable progress towards sustainable development, in large part thanks to the Chinese government’s vision of making high-quality higher education accessible. The constitution of highly qualified human capital as well as institutional reforms, the creation and expansion of higher education establishments and a significant increase in public expenditure on education over the past decades have made it possible to achieve this objective. . For example, between 1998 and 2003, Chinese government spending on education increased by one percentage point of total government spending per year.

While a general effort to improve the quality and delivery of education was a step in the right direction, the government has also taken several specific steps to improve the quality of higher education, including the launch of higher education programs. special funding that provided financial support to selected institutions that foster reform and innovation.

Among these unique provisions are Project 211 and Project 985 launched in 1995 and 1998, respectively. While Project 211 strengthened the scientific research, management and institutional efficiency of 116 higher education institutions, Project 985, which started with nine universities and then grew to 39, successfully established Chinese universities. top notch which have always been listed among the top tier.

China’s phenomenal commitment to improving the quality and access to higher education is yielding tremendous results. Currently, China is home to the world’s largest higher education system with over 40 million students. During the duration of the 13th five-year plan of the country (2016-2020), 3.39 million students obtained a master’s degree and 333,000 students obtained a doctorate.

By committing adequate resources to support research and development in higher education institutions, which includes, but not limited to, the construction of many key national laboratories, China is striving to improve access high quality higher education. From 2016 to 2019, the country invested 119 billion dollars in research and development at the tertiary level.

While it is commendable that China has shown unwavering support for improving the quality of research and development, the important question is whether these investments are producing meaningful results on the world stage? Well, the answer to that question can be found in the 2022 edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, published on September 2, 2021.

This latest edition which focuses on global research published between 2016 and 2020 and the quotes that were made in 2021 shows that the Capital Medical University, Wenzhou Medical University and Wuhan University in China are the institutions with the highest jump in absolute citation impact scores with a score of over 30 points.

Peking University freshmen take photos, September 1, 2021. / CFP

Peking University freshmen take photos, September 1, 2021. / CFP

A detailed analysis of the 2021 and 2022 editions of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings reveals that 19 institutions experienced a noticeable increase in the citation impact score; a result mainly attributed to the publication of medical research related to COVID-19. Of the 19 establishments that recorded the exceptional increase in the citation impact score, 11 are located on the Chinese mainland; position China as the country with the fifth highest institutions among the top 200 in the world, overtaking Canada and tied with the Netherlands.

While Chinese universities are currently at the forefront of the rest of the world in medical research related to COVID-19, it should be noted that the scientific research prowess of the country’s universities is not limited to this area but transcends others. areas.

The latest report (2021) from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations, which promotes and protects intellectual property (IP), shows that five Chinese universities were in the top 10 global educational institutions institutions with the highest applications for 2020. Shenzhen University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Dalian University of Technology and China University of Technology of South were ranked 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th respectively, representing the largest number of universities in a single country.

Advances made by Chinese higher education institutions, especially in research and development covering renewable energy, artificial intelligence (AI), medicine, etc. stimulate innovation in industries in China and the rest of the world and contribute significantly to the promotion of sustainable development. global development. For example, China filed 68,720 patent applications in 2020, the highest in the world, and Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, ranked number one for the fourth time in a row among companies that filed for the same. year.

This impressive feat of China calls for a repair of departures in the scientific community. It is important that the United States and its allies cooperate with Chinese higher education institutions and organizations in a problem-solving process to improve the quality and equitable access to higher education with the aim of supporting sustainable development in the world.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])

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