--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Experiences of Oxford, Harvard Benefiting Chinese Schools
In the international education arena, there is no argument that both the prestigious Harvard University and Oxford University have become the symbol of success throughout the world. At the ongoing Chinese-Foreign University Forum held in Huairou County, Beijing, from July 22 – Aug 1 and participated by about 100 headmasters from renowned universities at home and abroad, Neil Rudenstine, president emeritus of Harvard University, who retired last year after 10 years of leadership, and Sir Colin Lucas, current vice-chancellor of Oxford University, both revealed their secrets in managing their respective universities.

“We hope the Harvard education can prepare students to continue to learn even 50 years after graduation. Only by keeping on learning can they keep up with the world’s development. At the same time, Harvard is able to shape great leaders in society,” said Professor Rudenstine in an interview with journalists. “A good university should help students understand the theory of life-long learning.”

Though both deeply rooted in their own cultures, these two world-leading universities share something in common in terms of teaching issues. “As for Oxford University, we encourage students to challenge what they are told. It is no good for them to write down exactly what teachers have told them; instead, they should have their independent thinking as well as their own view about what the material means,” said Sir Colin Lucas.

His remark was interestingly echoed by Professor Rudenstine, who said: “We expect students to be engaged in discovering, creating new knowledge, and developing ideas to the best of their ability.” He also emphasized the creativeness of the students’ academic pursuit and the diversity of their choices in research subjects. In responding to the question of what is the most valuable experience that Harvard could give students, he said confidently that it could provide them with an excellent learning atmosphere; besides, students coming from over 100 countries endow the university with rich cultural flavors. In his eyes, the frequent contact and exchanges among students from different cultural backgrounds and traditions are a kind of education that will benefit students their entire life.

Talking about the management of modern universities, both Professor Rudenstine and Sir Colin Lucas placed much weight on making wise choices. Faced with the hard battle to attract investment from society for university development, Sir Colin Lucas said: “We have to make wise choices as to which fields we should invest in and where to put our main efforts.” In this case, Professor Rudenstein extended it to a larger context, speaking of country instead of one school. In his opinion, a country should make wise choices in developing a few outstanding universities, to make them much better and more competitive, while sparing no efforts to support other universities.

In respect to the evaluation systems undertaken by these two prestigious universities, they share one thing in common as both regard wide interest and innovative capacity as important standards for both students and faculty. In Harvard, besides the standard test, reference letter and interview, some specialties, no matter whether in music, sport, art or other fields will also be taken into consideration in assessing a student. “We are expecting our students to have larger interests outside their purely academic field; at the same time, we are trying to create a diversity of ideas,” said Professor Rudenstine. In terms of the evaluation of the faculty, exceptional excellence in their academic field is a precondition for both universities, such as publication in key journals. In addition, “Our faculty needs to be creative and innovative. They should be able to think constantly in new ways and with new perspectives,” Professor Rudenstine added.

Regarding the tendency for students to choose popular majors, while giving much less attention to those purely academic or completely research-oriented disciplines, Professor Rudenstine expressed his real worry. “As a comprehensive university, we must guarantee a large range of sciences; each major has to be represented and has to be strong. We have to bear in mind that the economy of the university is not dependent on what students choose. If we just take care of what is happening now, and neglect other courses or subjects, then it will be difficult for universities to maintain high quality teaching in a long run. One way to counteract it is to endow the related professors with certain scholarships to ensure that every subject can be taught. As a matter of fact, as long as they are worthwhile, we pay to keep them.”

During this Chinese-Foreign University Presidents Forum, which is especially dedicated for Chinese and foreign university heads to exchange views on management of modern universities, both Chinese and foreign delegates had their own expectations. “Firstly, I hope that this forum can contribute to the debate which is going on in China on how to organize and develop universities; secondly, I am expecting to learn from our Chinese peers how Chinese universities work and how we can collaborate with each other.” Sir Colin said. Similarly, Professor Rudenstein listed “international studies” as one of his priorities to develop a university, with another two issues concerning broad-based basic biological and medical science research and more application of IT knowledge. In this regard, to make Harvard more global, he expects full academic exchanges and cooperation with Chinese universities as well as other good universities from every country.

Overall, for these two prestigious universities with a rather long history in providing best education opportunities, a dynamic education and a liberal system to encourage innovation and diversity directly contribute to their excellence. Just as Sir Colin said: “In order to be a good university head, you should think about the future more than the present. You need to be patient and you should be both encouraging and skeptical.”

(china.org.cn by staff reporter Feng Shu, July 26, 2002)

Chinese Universities Urged to Keep Special Features
Oxford Willing to Work with Chinese Universities: Vice-chancellor
Knowledge Knows No Frontiers Between Peking and Oxford Universities
Int'l Education Cooperation Week to Be Held in Beijing
Qinghua, Harvard Join Hands in the Humanities Study
Mainland Universities Attract More Overseas Students
Harvard President Lauds Changes in China as Historic
Jiang Meets Harvard President
Harvard Alumni Get Together in Beijing
China Moves Toward Establishing Joint-Venture Universities
Universities Cooperate for Learning
Print This Page | Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688