Tupdhen Khedrup, vice-dean and associate professor at Tibet University’s School of Tourism and Foreign Languages, told China.org.cn in Beijing on Friday that, despite many challenges the university is making great progress.
Khedrup, also a member of the National Committee of the 10th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said, “I am especially concerned about higher education in Tibet. I have worked at Tibet University for over ten years. To be frank, in the past I wished to leave for a better place because it was not so good in many aspects.
“But now I don’t think in that way. Great changes have taken place in the university in recent years, which make it better than many others, including those in more developed areas of the country. Now I’m proud of the university and no longer want to leave.
“The university has seen a big increase in investment spent on facilities since former vice premier Li Lanqing visited it in August 2000. During his visit, he promised more support and urged us to build a first-class university in west China with unique Tibetan characteristics.
“The local government and the Ministry of Education have pledged to collaborate in developing the university.
“In recent years, under the support of the ministry, the university has expanded its faculty, staff and size. Moreover, it has launched many applied courses that serve the needs of local development, such as engineering, agriculture and animal husbandry.
“This year, central government has allocated 540 million yuan (US$65.24 million) to build a new campus, and another 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) for renovation of the present one.”
However, in contrast with the huge increase in student recruitment at many other universities since 1999, which resulted in complaints over declining standards, Tibet University has not significantly raised the number of admissions, said Khedrup.
“Having visited many top universities in places such as Beijing and Sichuan, I think the teaching quality, school management and study environment at our university are no worse than at most other universities in the country.
“Discipline for our teachers is very strict. For example, if a teacher is one minute late for class, they will lose their monthly bonus.
“Students are very diligent because they, like any other university student in the country, face the prospect of seeking employment after graduation. Besides, they have to deal with three languages: Tibetan, mandarin and a foreign language.
“The university adopts bilingual education in Tibetan and mandarin. The choice of teaching language is decided by classroom ethnic ratio: courses will be taught in the language spoken by the majority of students. However, every student can understand mandarin well. Teachers offer special explanations in Tibetan for students from families of farmers or herdsmen in remote areas, who may not understand mandarin well at first. Many ethnic Han students, including those from outside Tibet, also study the Tibetan language.
“The university’s undergraduate and postgraduate students are from every part of China, but most are from Tibet. The Tibetan/Han student ratio is about 60:40. Female students account for about half of the student body. The university also has a big proportion of women employees and its female graduates are well accepted by employers.
“Most of the university’s graduates go on to grassroots work in townships and counties. They are required by the local government to do this for at least one or two years before they can work in cities. Very few graduates seek jobs outside Tibet.
“Tibet University is rich in Tibetan cultural resources in areas such as Tibetology, Tibetan religion, Tibetan language, Tibetan medicine, Tibetan architecture, and Tibetan art and music, pooling the most excellent talents in these fields.
“The university attaches great importance to Tibetology because the leaders of the university understand that it’s a specialty that will win it an international reputation.
“The university ranks high in research into Tibetology. Some of its master’s degree dissertations are so excellent that they compete with doctoral dissertations on the subject from other universities and qualify for publication. In addition, most of the university’s Tibetology researchers are in their 30s.
“The university’s Tibetology master’s students often conduct research in the region, as well as in Yunnan and Qinghai provinces. They have gone to some remote areas, including Ngari.”
They have collected many rare artifacts about Tibetan music, dance and religion. The university has also invited many local singers, dancers and artisans as visiting lecturers, according to Khedrup.
“Before I came to Beijing to attend the conference, the president of our university asked me to hunt for top-caliber talents in Tibetology here, saying our university will hire them at any price,” said Khedrup.
“The president is an ethnic Han, a veteran educator who has worked for over 20 years in Tibet. His enthusiasm for Tibetology is even higher than ours.
“The university has established close cooperation with other universities in the country in the study of Tibetology.”
During the first session of 10th CPPCC in 2003, Khedrup submitted a proposal asking the Ministry of Education to give Tibet University the right to confer a doctoral degree in Tibetology. The Academic Degree Committee of the State Council later notified the university that they could launch a doctoral program in collaboration with Sichuan University. Khedrup said that this will be launched soon.
“Teachers have been actively involved in promotion of local economic and social development. I myself participated in a program to draft a 15-year plan for tourism in Tibet with Tsinghua University, which lasted for about two years, and the draft plan was approved days ago.
“Tibet University also developed the international standard for Tibetan language used in computer applications, the only one of China’s minority languages to do so.
“It is well equipped with computers and internet connections, providing 24-hour free surfing. Multimedia methods are widely used in teaching.
“Tibet University has links with 23 top universities in the country. Teachers regularly take advanced courses of study at other universities and return to teach,” said Khedrup.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Chen Chao, March 13, 2005)