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Can China’s Government Funding Boost its Universities into Top Ranks?

tsinghua中国政府的投资是否能够推动中国大学跻身世界前列? In a plan recently released, the Chinese government envisions its higher education sector rising to world-class levels, and it is eager to improve the international ranking of its universities.

Over the past two decades, the government has been generously funding some of the top universities, with the top institutions receiving billions of dollars. According to a report in South China Morning Post, in 2014 Tsinghua University received USD 2.6 billion in funding, while Peking University received USD 1.9 billion. The effort seems to be paying off at least with these two Beijing-based institutions, which made it to the 58th (Tsinghua) and 71st (Peking) places in the worldwide ARWU (Shanghai) rankings.

Why should governments invest in universities? As universities no longer have a monopoly on research and teaching, this question is certain to bother taxpayers, politicians and university leaders alike. Even some of the Chinese scientists, receiving the generous funding, are sceptical. “Are there any first-class universities in the world that have reached that level because of government administration and intervention?” asks a Tsinghua University professor, stressing the fact that academic freedom is as important as investing in state-of-the-art hardware.

Nevertheless, the government has a critical role in the development of scientific innovation and even venture, especially in fields demanding thorough and time-consuming research – covered by the CIV Deep Innovation strand. According to Ms. Maor Chester from the Israel Innovation Authority, the link between research done in academia and the industry is extremely important and the government should help to strengthen that link. It is the government’s job to finance innovation that would not have happened otherwise. The government has a few characteristics that make it a good partner: it has deeper pockets, it is not concerned about returns and it’s more tolerant towards risk. Chester spoke at the Deep Innovation workshop, organized by CIV in 2015. (Read more about Deep Innovation in CVR Issue 3.)

Will the Chinese universities succeed in their venture to redesign universities for the Age of Knowledge? On April 23, 2017, we will have a unique chance to hear about it first hand, at UV2017HK – the UniVenture Visions symposium, co-organized by CIV and AUTM Asia. Among the speakers we are pleased to feature Prof.

Among the speakers we are pleased to feature Prof. Dongmin Chen, Dean of the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Peking University; and Dr. Renchen Liu, Director of the European Centre at the Tsinghua-Shenzhen Research Institute.

Super early bird registration is open now, with special discounts until 30-Sep-2016. 

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