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Sun Qixiang: When will Chinese universities become world-class?

MAY . 09 2013

Peking University, Apr. 20, 2013: People’s Daily published PKU Professor Sun Qixiang’s article titled "When will Chinese Universities Become World-Class?" on April 19. Full text follows:

 

It would be only a question of time before we become world-class, if our higher education contains not only the imparting of systems of knowledge, but also the cultivation of capability of innovation, not only the passing on of learning, but also the new breakthrough, not only the tolerance to exploration, but also the admiration for Truth.

 

What is a dream? The dream is a fictitious expression of the dissatisfaction of reality and an ardent aspiration to the good. It is easier to dream of one’s aims than to realize them, which requires condition, action, and devotion. To dream without action would only mean an empty dream. “The prosperity of the country, the revival of the nation, and the happiness of the people” constitutes the core of the Chinese dream. These aims need solid works and effects to support. To realize the dream requires every Chinese to consider his our own duty. As teachers, what we need to realize is first of all the dream of education in China.

 

During the recent years, many universities in this country have been discussing the objective of constructing world-class universities. Undoubtedly, to become world-class universities is the dream of education of many Chinese universities. In my opinion, building world-class universities should be a means, of which the goal is to better fulfil the responsibility of education, to impart knowledge and educate students in a more effective way, and to provide more talents for the prosperity and revival of the nation.

 

Apart from keeping up with social changes, renovating the systems of knowledge, and cultivating students’ living and developing potentials, education should at the same time provide something “eternally immutable,” such as the implantation of creative consciousness and critical spirit, the cultivation of morality and conduct, the development of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual quotient. Regardless of the passing of time and the innovation of knowledge, those above must always exist in higher education and remain the foundation and soul of universities’ training goals.

 

If people comment on someone, saying, “He must have had higher education,” that implies an admiration of his good conduct, fine cultivation, high IQ, EQ, and SQ, telling from what he says and does. What higher education cultivates first and foremost is a noble man with sound personality in possession of the fundamental qualities: filial piety, kind-heartedness, tolerance, and sincerity. The formation of these qualities demands the positive influence from various parts, including society, family, school, and especially the teachers’ instruction by word and deed.

 

World-class universities are characterized by their high level on every aspect in the cultivation of students, their solid stance on the height of cultural uplands, their leading research ability, etc. As far as I’m concerned, the most important reason why Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge have been acknowledged as world-class universities is that they have acted in accordance with the logic of educational development. It would be only a question of time before we become world-class, if there were higher diversity, more academic freedom, and much opener discussions, if there could be less arbitrary evaluation, less administrational intervention, and less eagerness for quick success; if our higher education contains not only the imparting of systems of knowledge, but also the cultivation of capability of innovation, not only the passing on of learning, but also the new breakthrough, not only the tolerance to exploration, but also the admiration for truth.

 

Ten years ago, I talked about my Beida dream, “I dream that in the near future, Beida (PKU) will really become a world-class university, when teachers, rather than being bothered by the grading pressure, can devote themselves to academic life and regard it as greatest delight, and when students, no longer enslaved by dazzling material temptations, can grow up bathed in the profound historical and vast modern air.”

 

My Beida dream may not be grand, but I think that should be the general pursuit of higher education. My Beida dream may not be ambitious, but it will be hard to realize without everyone’s efforts. The revival of the nation should be founded upon education. Thus, the Beida dream, the education dream, and the Chinese dream converge together.

 

As it is said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts from the first step,” to realize the dreams, I will start from myself, from “the small things” in my life, and faithfully fulfil the sacred duties of a teacher, exerting all my strength and wisdom.

 


Background info:


Sun Qixiang is a professor and dean of the Peking University School of Economics. She also serves as Director of the Center for China Insurance and Social Security Research (CCISSR), Vice Chairman of The Insurance Institute of China, Member of the Academic Board, China Society for Finance and Banking and Academic Moderator of the International Insurance Society. Her current research interests include development strategy of China's insurance industry, insurance regulation, comparative study of international insurance market and integration of finance.

 

Written by: He Jianfeng
Edited by: Zhao Ning, Armin Reinartz & Zhang Jiang
Source: People’s Daily