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National University Risks Localization

Fudan University, one of the country's most well-known, is preparing to celebrate its centenary on September 24, but figures from 2005's enrolment have raised concerns that it and other Shanghai institutions are becoming less national in nature.

Three renowned key national universities based in the city -- Fudan, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Tongji University -- accepted more students from Shanghai this year than from the rest of China combined.

Fudan enrolled 3,400 undergraduate students, 63.1 percent of whom were locals, which is an unusually high proportion compared to other national universities. Beijing students at Peking University make up only 13 percent of enrolments, though this is also increasing.

Teachers at the university have complained that reduced input from non-local students in classes and seminars lowers the quality of learning, since fewer views from people with dissimilar backgrounds are shared.

The local Shanghainese dialect has also become the norm on campus outside classes, excluding students from elsewhere from engaging fully in university life and reducing mixing between people from different parts of the country.

Extracurricular activities also tend to be organized with the needs of local students in mind, since they are in the majority, and campus life has reportedly suffered because there are more empty dorms at weekends.

The situation has become possible because decision making over college and university enrolments has been devolved from ministries to individual institutions in recent years.

As of May 24 there were 1,794 state colleges and universities in China and 76 were under direct supervision of the Ministry of Education. Of these, 22 were in Beijing and eight in Shanghai.

Shanghai students tend to prefer to remain in the city for their higher education, with some reportedly choosing less prestigious local colleges over institutions elsewhere in the country. Eight out of ten students of the high school affiliated to Fudan University opt to apply to it.

(China.org.cn by Wind Gu, August 24, 2005)

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