Understanding China’s academic woes: China’s position as an economic superpower may be hampered by the patrimony and poor academic ethics of its universities

Steven Kuo – The Guardian

Copyright The Guardian
An excerpt
“…Chinese universities are modelled after civil services where most of those who are in charge are party members, not scholars. The chancellor of a top national university enjoys the equivalent ranking of a national government minister, and provincial universities’ chancellors, provincial government ministers. Instead of being isolated ivory towers of academic research where quality research is the ultimate criterion for recognition, Chinese universities are places of hierarchy, patrimony, control and power struggles where personal networks outweigh academic ability.
In my experience, interviewing established professors is sometimes akin to having an audience with a ranking mandarin. They respond anecdotally from a position of superiority, confident with their privileged access to information, their influence on policy and their status in society. Attempts at engaging in academic debate are often dismissed with sighs of “you just don’t understand China” and if pressed a little harder, accusations of western imperialism are almost inevitable.
Some of the younger generation of scholars complain privately of having to produce research on demand, of having to censor themselves on “sensitive topics” and having to deal with an unfair system that recognises seniority rather than originality and quality. But those who are unhappy with the system are in the minority; the majority of them are satisfied with their lot and are biding time until they too take up more senior positions….”
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