Tsinghua's learning goal

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, April 25, 2011
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That all top State leaders attended.

Tsinghua University's centennial anniversary celebration on Sunday points to the importance this country attaches to education, which President Hu Jintao described in his speech as the foundation for long-term development.

One of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the country, Tsinghua stated just before the anniversary that it aims to become one of the world's top universities by the year 2020 and one of the world's leading universities by the year 2050.

As far as the publication of research papers and their citations are concerned, nine specializations at the university already rate in the top 1 percent globally.

However, the great number of papers published makes up only part of the requirements for a top-level university, and as President Hu Jintao reminded us, the country's universities still have a long way to go before catching up with the current world leaders.

Scientist Qian Xuesen once asked: Why have Chinese institutions of higher learning failed to create top-class talent?

This is the question that all university presidents, ranking education officials and professors should ask if they are really concerned with the future of this country. This is also the question Tsinghua must ask when endeavoring to realize its aspiration of squeezing into the top rank of universities in the years to come.

Tsinghua, and indeed all country's prestigious universities, must, first of all, realize that setting a goal is one thing and making efforts to realize it is another.

They must be clear that a modern university education mechanism is yet to be established to allow real autonomy to academic studies and to allow full play to the initiatives of professors and students.

They should also be aware that the pursuit of fame and money on the part of professors has been eroding the basic ethics they are supposed to observe in their academic studies. At the same time, they have lost the diligence they are supposed to display in their pursuit of academic achievements, and some clearly fail to devote themselves to teaching as their predecessors did.

To develop itself into one of the top universities worldwide, Tsinghua must muster enough courage to blaze a new tail in getting rid of all the stumbling blocks, including the administration-dominated university management model and the inertia the professors have developed under this model.

It must shift its attention from quotas, such as number of papers published, the number of research projects financed by the State and how much money it can make from its projects onto the contributions professors can make to teaching and research.

Only by carefully balancing teaching and research can a university hopefully cultivate top-class graduates.

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