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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> China's Tibet: Facts & Figures> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: October 27, 2008 NO. 44 OCT. 30, 2008
Talent Pool for Tibet
Over the past half century, the Tibet Nationalities Institute, the first university especially built for Tibetans, has trained more than 30,000 people and greatly contributed to the region's development

After China's reform and opening up in the late 1970s, the school further adjusted its education and organizational structure. In 1977, the school recruited its first batch of bachelor's degree students, who majored in the Tibetan language. The first group of bachelor degree students majoring in Chinese entered the school in 1979.

Life changing

Today, the Tibet Nationalities Institute is a comprehensive university that offers a wide spectrum of courses in science, liberal arts, economics, management, law, medical science and education. It has seven colleges and three departments, offering six master's degree programs, 31 bachelor's degree programs and some two-year vocational education programs, and has a total full-time enrollment of about 10,000 students.

According to Di Fangyao, Director of the Information Office of the Tibet Nationalities Institute, Tibetan students now account for about 47 percent of the total enrollment. Most Tibetan students are from rural areas and are not rich. Their average annual tuition is about 3,000 yuan ($439), which is about half of the national average. Tibetans and students of other ethnic groups mingle in the same classes.

As the education Tibetan students have received before entering the institute varies and is generally not as good as students from other regions, courses at different levels are offered to students in the same grade to accommodate for their specific needs. For instance, English is taught at four levels, and advanced mathematics at three levels.

In addition to standard university textbooks, the school has compiled a series of textbooks and other teaching materials especially for Tibetan students, covering areas such as Tibetan history, Tibetan language, plateau medical science and traditional Tibetan sports.

School resources

At the inception of the school, the teachers and cadres were former PLA soldiers who once worked in Tibet and fresh graduates of universities in other parts of China. Later, some graduates of the institute were chosen to stay and teach, and the school also had faculty and staff sent from other areas. Since China's reform and opening up, the school has given incentives to attract high caliber people to work there.

In 2003, the Ministry of Education designated five famous universities including Fudan University, Zhongshan University, Xiamen University, Tianjin University and East China Normal University to assist the Tibet Nationalities Institute. In 2007, four more universities were asked to give a helping hand, including Renmin University of China, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Xi'an Jiaotong University and Southeast University.

Now, the faculty of the Tibet Nationalities Institute has better education and professional qualifications. A total of 20 teachers hold doctor's degree, and 163 hold master's degrees. Together, they account for 38 percent of the total. Nine faculty members are professors, accounting for 4 percent of the total, and 114 are associate professors, accounting for 24 percent of the total.

The school has a library covering a total area of 14,821 square meters. The library has two parts, a 4,404-square-meter old section built in 1986 and a 10,417-square-meter new section built in 2005. The library is equipped with an advanced door access system, computer control center and data processing center. The library has 13 reading rooms and research room for experts, with a total of 2,500 seats.

The library holds more than 100 volumes of books or documents, 80 percent of which are hard copies, and the remaining 20 percent are electronic copies.

In the past half a century, the library has emphasized collecting material on Tibetology and ethnic literature and now it has a rich collection in these areas. In 1992, the library set up the Tibetology Information and Document Center to support teaching and research in this area. Now the center stores more than 20,000 volumes of books on Tibetology, of which more than 16,000 are in the Tibetan language, and more than 6,700 are in Mandarin.

Liu Hongshun, President of the Tibet Nationalities Institute is very confident about the future of his school. He said that Tibet has adopted a strategy to boost development through science and technology and through talented people. Human resources are key to economic and social development in Tibet. As the oldest institute of higher learning established for Tibetans, the Tibet Nationalities Institute must shoulder the responsibility of producing talented people who can further the development of Tibet.

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