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New Moves to Improve Higher Education
Minister of Education Zhou Ji yesterday said the government is putting forward new measures to further improve the quality of China's higher education.

One measure high on the list is a move to encourage the country's professors to personally design courses for their students.

Under the plan, instructors nationwide are to be invited to submit their specially designed courses for evaluation by the ministry.

The ministry then plans to judge the top 1,500 entries and financially reward the authors. The winning course material is to be made available through the Internet for use throughout the education system.

"They will be honoured as excellence courses and shared by universities nationwide via the Internet," said Zhou at a press conference yesterday to introduce the package of new measures, which are expected to improve teaching quality and reform higher education.

Zhou's ministry is taking steps to push all 1,500 universities around the country to develop these special courses.

Moreover, to encourage professional excellence, the ministry has decided to recognize 100 university teachers each year, starting from 2003, for outstanding achievements in teaching.

China's higher education has scored outstanding successes over the previous five years.

College enrolment has increased from 1.08 million in 1998 to 3.04 million in 2002.

"The national college enrolment rate has reached 15 per cent and in terms of higher education, we have entered an era of mass education, instead of elite education," said Zhou.

Intensively utilizing information technology to improve higher education is being heavily stressed in the measures.

Zhang Yaoxue, director of the ministry's Department of Higher Education, said information technology will be widely used in college-level English instruction.

"We have chosen several domestic publishing houses and international software companies to develop suitable teaching software for Chinese teachers and students," Zhang said.

He said computer-based teaching methods will be widely used to improve students' oral and listening capability.

China so far has 16 million university students but is short of English teachers.

Zhang said a special centre to assess teaching quality of nationwide colleges will be set up soon and will assess the teaching performance at colleges every five years.

(China Daily April 10, 2003)

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