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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: November 5, 2012 NO. 45 NOVEMBER 8, 2012
Brain Circulation

Officials and scholars from China and the United States discussed collaborating on higher education during the 15th Edgar Snow Symposium held at Peking University in October, stressing that educational cooperation should be a two-way street. Excerpts of their speeches follow:

Yang Meng, Deputy Secretary General of the China Education Association for International Exchange: The Outline of China's National Plan for Medium- and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-20) requires us to expand international exchanges and cooperation in the field of education. In the early 1980s, many Chinese students went abroad to study and didn't come back after graduation, bringing a so-called "brain drain" to the country. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, there were more job opportunities in fast-developing China, and more Chinese students overseas are willing to return to China, in what is now coined the "brain gain." Today, not only are Chinese students going abroad to study, but also more foreign students are coming to China to learn the Chinese language and culture, promoting "brain circulation."

China's Ministry of Education has signed agreements with 39 countries to recognize each other's academic degrees and credentials. Chinese students are sent to over 100 countries and regions to study, and students from 194 countries and regions come to China to study. Currently there are 1,600 institutions jointly run by Chinese and foreign higher education institutions. We encourage international exchanges not only between institutions above the college level but also between high schools and even primary schools. Our goal by 2020 is to have 100,000 foreign students studying in China.

Currently there are more Chinese students studying in the United States than U.S. students studying in China. The reason is that the United States has more high-quality higher education institutions than China. In addition, Chinese students started to learn English at primary school. They know much more about the United States than U.S. students know about China. According to my work experience, it is hard to encourage U.S. students to leave home and come to China to study. In order to attract more U.S. students, I think we should improve our curriculum to cater to U.S. students' needs.

Shi Xiaoguang, an associate professor with the Graduate School of Education at Peking University: Why does China have the largest number of students studying overseas? An important reason is that we don't have enough high-quality educational institutions. In order to meet Chinese students' needs, we should have 200 research universities. However, at present there are only around 40 research universities in China. To make up for the lack of high-quality educational resources in China, we need to introduce resources from other countries, especially the United States.

In the past few decades, cooperation in the field of higher education between China and the United States has born rich fruit. For example, in 1986, the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies was established in Nanjing. In 2000, a delegation led by the then U.S. secretary of education visited China and the two countries signed an agreement on education cooperation. During his visit to China in 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to send 100,000 American students to study in Chinese universities. In addition, a number of research centers have been established in China by the two countries in recent years such as the Sino-U.S. Institute for University Design established in 2006, the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center in 2009 and the Stanford Center at Peking University in 2012.

Why should Chinese universities collaborate with U.S. universities? I think Chinese universities, especially those at the provincial level, lack educational resources. Therefore, they need foreign investment to improve their quality of education. In addition, Chinese universities need to improve their teaching methods by incorporating innovative ideas from the U.S.

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