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【Beijing Forum 2010】Higher Education and Learning Societies

Peking University, Nov. 8, 2010: On the morning of Nov. 6, Session 2 of the panel "Education Reform and Research in the Era of Transition: Responsibility and Future" was held in the Sunshine Hall of PKU Yingjie Overseas Exchange Center. Scholars from the US, Germany, Britain, and Thailand had in-depth discussions around the topic "Higher Education and Learning Societies."


Prof. Cary King from University of California at Berkeley delivered a speech entitled "The Multi-Disciplinary Imperative in Higher Education" in which he pointed out the importance of developing multi-disciplinary knowledge in contemporary society. He said that universities should promote general education at the undergraduate level to meet the social need for students versed in different disciplines.


Prof. Chou Chu-ying from Taiwan's Chengchi University (NCCU) casted a doubt on the current academic evaluation system in Taiwan's higher education. In her eyes, it was unadvisable to assess research performance chiefly in terms of the number of articles published in SCI, SSCI, and A&HCI indexed journals because publication expectations were not uniform across all disciplines and the characteristics of certain subjects in humanities and social sciences had been largely ignored. She said that other evaluation indicators, such as monographs and academic conference papers, should be included.


Prof. Heidi Ross from University of Indiana expounded the relationship between higher education and learning societies from a student-centered perspective. Based on her own teaching experiences and research in China's education, she said that universities should focus more on the impacts of research process on students rather than the research results. She also expressed her own ideas about Chinese private colleges.


Prof. Liu Haifeng from Xiamen University talked about reform on China's national college entrance examination in his presentation. The reforming trend was shifted from giving priority to efficiency to giving priority to equity, according to Prof. Liu, and currently reformers are trying to find a way to keep equity and efficiency in balance.


After the discussion session and tea break, Prof. Li Wenli from PKU Graduate School of Education reviewed the Chinese higher education finance over the past six decades. She pointed out four major existing problems which included the inadequate funding, the unbalanced distribution of educational resources, imbalance in financial allocation across different regions and the deficient cost reimbursement. Meanwhile, Prof. Li also purposed to follow the principle of "pay good prices for good quality" in Chinese public higher education.


Kalaya Tingsabadh, Vice President of Thailand's Chulalongkon University, introduced the practice results of balancing scale and quality in higher education based on experiences from Chulalongkon University. She also talked about the supervisory system of assessing educational quality and the outcome-based curricula at her university.


Prof. Chung Yue-ping from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) focused on cross-border education in his speech entitled "Financing Overseas Students in Local Universities under Globalization." He pointed out the positive influence of cross-border education on enhancing international understanding, promoting cooperation between different civilizations and improving individual personality. At the same time, Prof. Chung drew the audience's attention to the negative externalities of increasingly commercialized study abroad programs.


The last speaker Prof. Ian Leslie from the University of Cambridge expounded the role of universities. He believed that researches at universities had been connected to all sectors of society and they should contribute to the development of society. He said that universities needed to promulgate a closed system view of the world, promoting the understanding of interplay in a closed system among society.


The reforms in China's higher educational system aroused great interest among scholars. They had animated discussions about academic evaluation, college entrance examination reform, overseas education and other issues of today's concern. 


Extended Reading:

PKU News (Chinese): Toward Learning Societies


Reported by: Chen Miaojuan
Edited by: Chen Miaojuan