A look at the Chinese model of studies and governance

Till 2003, almost all universities in China were state-owned. A few private ones were ranked at the bottom and were barely surviving. In 2003, the China Ministry of Education started an initiative of creating about 340 new universities affiliated with well-established state-owned universities. The result was a 30 per cent growth in universities in no time, said Wei Sun, Professor and Dean, Beihang University College of Software Engineering, Beijing. He was speaking about IT Education in India and China and the opportunities for collaboration between the two countries in the field of education at the Connect 2008 event, on September 12.

Speaking about the initiatives that led to this change, Mr. Sun said that in 2002, the Ministry of Education in China created National Model Colleges of Software Engineering. These colleges were created in conditions akin to a special economic zone. They were allowed to govern themselves and run programmes jointly with the industry and foreign universities. They were also allowed to charge higher tuition fees and investments were allowed into the colleges.

Today, there are 37 National Model College of Software Engineering, he said. They generate about 30,000 students with Master of Software Engineering degree and 10,000 with Bachelor of Software Engineering degree.

Comparing the Indian IT students and their Chinese counterparts, he said that Indians scored better when it came to English. Despite 15 years of intensive English training, Chinese students cannot communicate effectively in that language. Indian students are better team players, as most Chinese students want to own a business rather than work under someone.

He said that 96 per cent of students ranked first in all provinces of China chose a non-IT field or business administration. But, when it comes to efficiency, the Chinese Government scores way higher than the Indian Government, said Mr. Sun. And, the Chinese Government was doing all things possible to give a boost to the outsourcing industry.

The Ministry of Commerce in China plans to establish 10 national outsourcing cities and centres. Wuxi, a middle-size city, set aside $ 220 million in 2008 to invest in attracting outsourcing companies in the next three years, he said. In this context, where India and China have their respective competitive advantages, a model of cooperation and collaboration could be followed, to benefit both the countries, said Mr. Sun. Already, many such initiatives are underway, he said. Around 1,800 Chinese students are studying in Indian educational institutions such as Vellore Institute of Technology, Anna University and SRM College of Engineering. There are about 1,200 Indian students in China.

Indian universities and Chinese universities can partner with each other, he said. But initiatives are needed from the governments of both sides, such as easing the visa process and having more direct flights, to further this cooperation, he added.