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To better serve students, Beida learns from overseas

Peking University, May 31, 2013: “A more organized administrative team will assist Beida in building a world-class university,” said Zhang Li, a staff member for student affairs at Peking University (PKU/Beida).


Zhang and Wei Wei, deputy Party secretaries of the College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering (CCME) and of the Department of Psychology, spoke at a meeting on May 3 about valuable lessons they learned from a training program on student affairs work.


Zhang and Wei visited Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) for a training program for PKU student affairs professionals from January 12 to February 2.


“We saw so many things in common, but there are also differences to a large extent in terms of student affairs administrations,” said Wei at the meeting, which was organized by the PKU Office of Student Affairs.


She took as an example the Residential Assistant (RA) team, which is composed of both experienced teachers and outstanding students. Although the RA program is quite popular in the US, Chinese universities do not have similar mechanism, “which could make Beida students more prone to loneliness and helplessness.”


Another noticeable difference Wei identified was the coverage and intensity of career services. "Stanford and UC Berkeley provide its students with distinguished career services. They encourage undergraduates to walk into the office and consult advisors, which helps in arranging interviews and building connections with corresponding alumni in certain field."


Compared to American universities, the career services work at Beida is still inadequate, said Wei.


Zhang and Wei conducted field research at Stanford and UC Berkeley by interviewing student affairs officers, professors and students, especially those PKU alumni who were pursuing further education there.


The two presenters both stressed that strategic priorities of student affairs work are access, service and engagement, which are exactly the listed missions of the UC Berkeley Division of Student Affairs.


“Access: Maintain access and affordability; provide opportunities for equity and excellence; Service: Improve and sustain cutting edge student services, making them more applicable to this generation of students; Engagement: Foster learning and leadership development, transforming students into engaged local, national, global citizens,” according to the UC Berkeley student affairs division.

“Together these create the student experience and foster student success.”


At the end of the meeting for sharing experiences, Wei suggested the university offer more training programs in student affairs, providing opportunities for a broader administrative vision.


Starting from October 2012, the overseas training program is jointly organized by the PKU Organization Department and Office of International Relations. Through this program, selected leading professionals in student affairs are sent to prestigious universities overseas to learn from their administrative structure and to improve the PKU mechanism in order to provide better service for students.


Reported by: Jiang Zhaohui
Edited by: Zhang Jiang