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[Beijing Forum 2016] PKU-Stanford Forum (2016) Opens at SCPKU

NOV . 07 2016
Peking University, Nov. 7, 2016: The PKU-Stanford Forum, which is also education sub-forum of Beijing Forum (2016), opened at the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU) on November 4, 2016. The theme of this forum is “Building World Class Universities: An Institutional Perspective.” During the following two days, more than forty university presidents and professors from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Japan, Finland, Korea, Philippines, Pakistan and China, as well as experts of international organizations, got together and conduct heated discussions on the emergence, organization, management and development of world-class universities. Jean C. Oi, director of SCPKU and professor of Stanford University, served as the chair in the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony included three opening remarks and one keynote speech.

PKU-Forum 2016
Professor Jean C. Oi first gave the welcoming speech. In the past five years, the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU), with the support of Peking University, has not only provided Stanford University’s faculty and students a platform to learn more regarding China but also served as a bridge to connect excellent minds throughout the world. Nowadays, building world class universities has become a strategy of many countries to improve competition and develop their higher education. Todays forum is just a unique and excellent opportunity to dig into this issue. Professor Jean Oi also expressed her appreciation of Peking University for supporting this forum.

Professor Jean C. Oi delivering the welcoming speech
In response to the challenges facing the 21st century and the tendency of building world class universities, Professor Ann M. Arvin, vice provost of Stanford University, pointed out that realizing the special mission of promoting excellent higher education had become the question requiring the consideration from all universities administrators. She looked forward to the deep discussion on this theme in the coming two days.

Professor Ann M. Arvin giving the speech
Professor Min Weifang, president of Chinese Society of Educational Development Strategy (CSEDS) and honorary dean of Graduate School of Education, Peking University, analyzed the topic of world class universities from the perspective of institutionalism. The world class university building had become a world-wide phenomenon as well as a means to build the hard and soft power of nation states. By gathering top scholars, pursuing truth and making cutting-edge research advances, universities act as engines to promote economic development and as bases to produce cultural outputs, values and beliefs. However, analysis of deeper institutional factors that allow the creation of world class universities have drawn less attention than the input of technology and resource distribution in the struggle to build world class universities. In this context, the forum tries to transform the higher education research from the technology concern to the deeper institution discussion and improve the theoretical exploration and practical experiments from an institutional perspective.

Professor Min Weifang delivering a speech
In the keynote speech, Professor Yan Fengqiao from Graduate School of Education, Peking University, shared some findings regarding the role of structural and institutional elements in the thinking and practice behind world class university building, which were based on a paper he co-authored with Professor Min Weifang. Many countries have undertaken “building world class university” as the strategy to develop their higher educational systems in order to enhance their competitive advantage in this era of knowledge-based economy. Professor Yan suggested that key values and beliefs of leading academic institutions–such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy –should be conserved in the process of building world class universities. The differentiation of higher education systems can improve the quality of higher education system as a whole. The world class university is now a driving force behind international competition in higher education. As for the developing countries, Professor Yan pointed out that the building of world class universities required more than financial support, and institutional reform was still in need. Because of the structural inertia, institutional changes were slower in the deeper layers (such as with respect to values and believes) than with respect to more surface manifestations like formal rules. We must still undertake deep research into institutions in order to understand better the process of world class university building.

Professor Yan Fengqiao delivering the keynote remarks
This PKU-Stanford Forum is made possible by the generous support from the Graduate School of Education and the Institute of Economics of Education at Peking University, the UNESCO Chair in Higher Education for the Asia Pacific, the Chinese Society for Education Development Strategies (CSEDS), the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU), and the Beijing Forum. Conference participants would focus on the four themes——“the differentiation of higher education systems and the emergence of world class universities in different institutional environments”; “institutional contexts and organizational structures of world class universities”; “managerial characteristics of world class universities shaped by institutional factors”; and “world class universities and institutional development”——and hold heated discussions.

Edited by: Zhang Jiang
Source: The Graduate School of Education