Wednesday, 25 April 2012

MoE Announcements on SUSTC and HK Chinese University JV

Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging platform, has been ringing with the news that Professor Zhu Qingshi's South University of Science and Technology China (SUSTC) has been given MoE approval.

This is quite interesting for those watching international education in China, whether involved in int'l HE or simply looking at Chinese HE, reforms and policies. The main reason being that SUSTC is the first university established without foreign assistance to teach programmes in English and utlizing a student centred learning approach. A more in-depth bog post on SUSTC will follow.

A second piece of news which seems to have slipped under the radar is perhaps of more concern/interest to Sino-Foreign educators in China. This is the news that China's second PRC-HK Joint Venture University has been given the go ahead (the first is UIC, a JV between Beijing Normal and HK Baptist).

This second university will be a JV between Shenzhen University (PRC) and Chinese University of Hong Kong, a world-class university located in HK.

With new announcements concerning NYU Shanghai last week (see last post), this really ups the the pressure, as both universities will be opening their doors in 2013, with Duke Kunshan also expected to do the same. It remains to be seen whether the universities of NYU Shanghai, DKU and CUHK Shenzhen will be able to secure quota to recruit from outside their home provinces (respectively Shanghai, Jiangsu and Shenzhen), but launching three universities with high fees, in addition to the established competition from UNNC, XJTLU, SBC and UIC who already operate at or near full capacity.

CUHK Shenzhen could be a major headache for NYU Shanghai. While NYU Shanghai aims to recruit 1400-2500 students, CUHK Shenzhen has a stated first phase target of 7000 students, building to 11000 by the end of the 2nd phase (expected 5 year phases).

Also, CUHK Shenzhen fees are reportedly equivalent to those already approved for the other existing Sino-British JV universities of XJTLU, UNNC and SBC - 60kRMB per annum. This could prove a major headache for NYU and Duke who, it is rumoured, will be hoping to be able to charge significantly more.

Existing JV's, particularly XJTLU and UNNC, can still rest easy knowing that the full approval process can take months, if not years, to play out. Recruiting large numbers of students from across China is impossible without quotas negotiated through the provincial and municpal education bureaus. This should give the existing universities a minimum of 2-3 years to adapt to the incoming competition, though NYU, Duke and CUHK are all big-hitters. If they can make it work.


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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Shanghai New York University: How many Tigers on the Mountain?

Last week saw a raft of news stories covering developments at Shanghai New York University (上海纽约大学).  SHNYU have been going head to head with Duke University to become the first high-level US university to form a JV in China. Wenzhou University and  Kean University (New Jersey) announced in December 2011 that they had received approval from the MoE to establish a JV university in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, with alleged funding of $250m provided by the Wenzhou and Zhejiang governments.  Nevertheless, all eyes are really focused on the big hitters: NYU and Duke.  

Various sources, including news reports on CCTV (中央电视台), China's national broadcaster, covered some important announcements on key positions at SHNYU.  Shanghai New York University is established under the 2003 Regulations Sino-Foreign Cooperative School Management, and is a JV between New York University (USA) and East China Normal University  (华东师范大学), ranked by the Chinese Academy of Management Science as the 4th ranked university in Shanghai behind Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Tongji University.  However, as those familiar with Chinese HE will know, China's universities are not easily compared.  ECNU is a leading "teachers" university and competes very strongly in education, humanities and the social sciences in China; is in the elite Project 985 group of universities, and is one of the the most competitive universities in China in terms of admissions standards.  

On the 4th April, Minister for Education Yang Guiren (杨贵仁) expressed his view that the MoE hopes SHNYU will become a leading example for other reforming institutions in China's vast HE system.  

Under Chinese HE Law, the President of SHNYU must be a Chinese citizen.  This position has been taken by President Yu Lizhong who is the current President of ECNU.  It is my understanding (from knowing the arrangements at other JV universities) that the President Li will continue as President of ECNU, with the Presidency of SHNYU being a largely ceremonial role involving duties on the Board of SHNYU (essentially equivalent to the role of Chancellor at a UK university)

It was reported in the China Youth Daily (青年日报) that Professor Jeffrey S. Lehman has been appointed Deputy President and CEO of SHNYU.  I believe this may be an error of translation.  Deputy President (副校长) is likely to be translated as "Vice-Chancellor" in English, removing any confusion as to the role Professor Lehman has been appointed to.  Vice-Chancellor is the typical title for the defacto President of universities in England.  Nevertheless, he should perhaps be referred to in Chinese as 执行校长 or Executive President, rather than 副校长 Deputy President, which does not accurately describe his role.  Perception is everything in China and 副校长 does not accurately capture the nature of his appointment.  Professor Lehman will be the defacto President (or Principal Administrator) appointed by the Board of SHNYU and responsible for the establishment and day-to-day operations of SHNYU.  Vice-Chancellor in English and 执行校长(Executive President) in Chinese would appear to be the most accurate terms for Lehman's role.  

Interestingly, Duke Kunshan University (DKU), the proposed JV between Duke University (US) and Wuhan University in the city of Kunshan, Jiangsu (on the border with Shanghai) have also elected to advertise for a "Vice-Chancellor".  I had expected that the title "Provost" would be used in both situations, given its common usage in US HE.  I had also speculated privately in conversations with some contacts that DKU would move for Professor Lehman, especially given the apparent good fit for the DKU Vice-Chancellor job decription.  It appears NYU got there first, and it is probably significantly to their advantage that they did so, given Lehman's US and China experience.  

Professor Lehman served as Dean of the University of Michigan Law School between 1994 and 2003, under then President Lee Bollinger (who, interestingly, as the current President of Columbia, recently dismissed the possibility of Columbia establishing a JV in China - possibly Nanjing - on the basis of concerns over academic freedom).  Professor Lehman then became the 11th President of Cornell University in 2003.  

In 2007 Professor Lehman became the founding Dean of the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen (PKU-STL).  PKU-STL offers J.D. degree programmes to Chinese students and was attempting to be the first school in China (possibly outside the US - unable to confirm) to secure accreditation by the American Bar Association.  

Since his appointment as President of Cornell University, Professor Lehman has spoken often of his passion for transnational education.  Since leaving Cornell, he has certainly attempted to bring US style education to China, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.  

Especially considering the challenges that appear to be confronting SHNYU.  Of course, these are, as always, my own speculation as to the situation in which SHNYU finds itself.  But there are a number of key issues which need to be resolved:

1.  Tuition Fees
NYU fees are eye-wateringly expensive.  US$45k approx per annum.  The recent announcement on SHNYU detailed that 51% of the initial 300 students projected to be enrolled in 2013 must come from the Chinese National University Entrance Exam admissions system (gaokao 高考).   Current fees for other JV universities (see below) do not exceed 60k RMB for students recruited through the Gaokao.  It remains to be seen what fees SHNYU will be permitted to charge Gaokao students as these fees are set by the Shanghai municipal education bureau.  Anything in excess of 60kRMB per annum would be highly surprising.  Is it the case that SHNYU will cross-subsidize these students with full-fee paying international students (making up the remaining 49% of students)?  Will SHNYU be able to find 150 US students will to enrol at US$45k in 2013 without access to US educational financial aid?  It is probable that some spin will be put on the limiting of fees for Gaokao students, with SHNYU possibly preferring to say that only the best students will be recruited and given significant scholarships.  For example, rather than set Chinese student fees lower, SHNYU will say fees are US$45k with talented Chinese students (all of those admitted) receiving a scholarship calculated as: NYU fee - Maximum Fee chargeable by SHNYU to Gaokao students = SHNYU Scholarship (i.e. US$45k - US$9k (60kRMB) = US$36k Scholarship)

2.  A Nest of Vipers
This is a major flagship operation in China's financial capital.  Fudan and Shanghai Jiaotong universities are unlikely to welcome the competition, and these two universities wield an immense amount of political influence.  China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) is also likely to emerge as a strong competitor, especially if SNHYU move into graduate education, which they undoubtedley will at the earliest opportunity.  SHNYU will have the support of the Pudong government and those officials, cadres and academicians loyal to ECNU, but it could be tough going if the machinations of Chinese politics and HE are brought to bear on SHNYU (this could happen for any number of reasons).  

3.  Tigers on the Mountain
VC Lehman must have the political nouse to balance the interests of several very powerful interested parties, most notably the MoE, Pudong government, ECNU and NYU (in that order).  Far from implying VC Lehman will be unable to balance these interests, which already appear to be coming to fore in terms of tuition fees arrangements, this is simply an acknowledgement of the monumentally powerful vested interests tied up in SHNYU.  VC Lehman's lot is likely to be a thankless task.  If it goes badly, he'll get the blame; if it goes well, they'll be plenty of other people willing to take the credit (this is why the title VC Lehman has in Chinese and English is incredibly important).  Lets hope he's got some good people around him who (a) understand this delicate balance and (b) have a deep appreciation of the highly political and strategic nature of Chinese culture.  Such people are thin on the ground.  

I genuinely wish SHNYU the best of luck, but worry that the spotlight will shine brightly and at a very high temperature on SHNYU.  

Below is a little background on the exalted company which SHNYU joins in becoming a new Sino-Foreign JV university in China.  

Joinining the JV Crowd
Foreign universities are not permitted to establish campuses in China, but must form Sino-Foreign Joint Ventures (usually formed as a cooperative joint-venture, as opposed to an equity joint venture).  Several high profile JV's have already been established since the 2003 Regulations on Sino-Foreign Cooperative School Management were promulgated:

1.  University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China (UNNC)
Established in 2004, UNNC is the first Sino-Foriegn Joint Venture University between the University of Nottingham (UK) and Wanli University, a private (民办) university in the city of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.  The Founding Provost and CEO of UNNC  was Professor Ian Gow OBE who is the current Principal and CEO of the Sino-British College in Shanghai (see below).  

2.  Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU)
XJTLU was established shortly after UNNC and took its first students in 2006.  Located in the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, XJTLU is a JV between Xi'an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool.  Xi'an Jiaotong University (西安交通大学), the Chinese partner, is one of the most prestigious universities in China.  It is a member of the C9 Group, China's Ivy League, and a founding member of the 985 group of leading research intensive universities.  

3.  Sino-British College (SBC)
The Sino-British College is a slightly different model.  It is a JV between University of Shanghai Science and Technology (USST - 上海理工大学) and several universities in the north of England known as the Northern Consortium, including Sheffield, Manchester, Bradford and Leeds.  

4.  United International College (UIC) 
Established as the first cooperative university between PRC and HK, UIC is a JV between Hong Kong Baptist University and Beijing Normal University (北京师范大学).  

5.  Wenzhou Kean University (WKU)
Recently approved in December 2011, this raised a few eyebrows.  Firstly, because the decision to grant a licence for this JV seems to ride roughshod over the unwritten rule that only Top 20 universities from foreign countries will be considered.  Kean is certainly not in that category.  Secondly, because the application for a licence was submitted to the MoE in 2006, with Kean having been in talks with Wenzhou since 2004.  Speculation attributes this decision to the possibility that it has been influenced by the leadership change coming in PRC in October 2012.  Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as Gen. Party Secretary of the CCP in October (and then as President in March 2013), was Party secretary of Zhejiang Province when this project was initially launched.  Thats not to suggest there's any pressure coming from Xi himself, more that rubber stamping projects launched during his tenure in Zhejiang could be seen as a sign of loyalty to his incoming administration.  


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Monday, 2 April 2012

Clampdown: Ministry of Education announces strict enforcement of existing Sino-Foreign Education regulations

On the 19th March (see post below) this blog reported the tightening of regulations concerning the admission and assessment of students registering on Masters programmes at Chinese universities.  The post discussed the possible implications for Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes, specifically highlighting the system of conferring degrees at all levels in China, including 2+2 and joint-Masters programmes where Chinese students spend a portion of their time at a foreign partner university.  Suffice to say that this announcement makes it incredibly important that all Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes operate within the regulatory framework laid down by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and do not recruit students to programmes which have not been licensed and approved my the MoE.

Yesterday (1st April 2012), the MoE issued a circular via their website announcing the strict enforcement of regulations concerning Sino-Foreign cooperative education.  This includes all cooperative programmes and Sino-Foreign JV universities in China (i.e. any joint-programmes taught wholly or partially in the territory of the PRC) at Diploma, Foundation, UG, PG and Doctoral levels.  It appears not to be an April Fool's joke.  

The circular calls on all Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes/institutions to "accurately grasp the policy limits of Sino-Foreign cooperation in school management" and explicitly insists that the licensing procedures for programmes must be strictly adhered to, with approval being granted prior to the launch of new diplomas and degrees.  

The circular clearly states that programmes "foreign academic diplomas and degree certificates obtained in violation of regulations shall not be certified".  This means that, as has been pointed out on this blog in a recent post (see: ), the MoE will not confer any foreign degrees wholly or partially taught in China unless they have specifically been approved by the Ministry of Education.  Lack of a conferral from the MoE essentially means the degree is not recognised in the PRC and renders any further study at Chinese universities impossible; means any subsequent PG or doctoral certificates will not be recognised either, and massively restricts (almost entirely) employment opportunities as most employers insist on a degree certificate and the MoE conferral (the conferral is seen as a check against fraudulent diplomas and degrees - all Chinese students who study entirely overseas must have their degrees notarised by the Chinese Embassy in that country and, upon return, the MoE will confer the degree).  

In addition, the MoE expressed their intention to enforce existing regulations and licence conditions concerning profit generation: "we must resolutely resist and correct (fix) misconceptions and practices of the foreign school as a means of income generation".  This clause of the circular should be noted by Sino-Foreign cooperative programmes which emphasise profit/high fees/marketing/recruitment over and above strong administration, quality teaching and management of their programmes in China.  

In instances where unlicensed programmes are in operation, the MoE advises that "unauthorised use of the name of the (Sino-Foreign) university and resources to run illegally held foreign school activities shall be promptly put to a stop" and "illegally held school activities, illegal issue of foreign a timely manner shall be punished".  The message could hardly be clearer.  Foreign universities must abide by the conditions of their licence, the 1998 HE Law of the PRC, the 2003 Sino-Foreign Cooperative Education Mgt Regulations and the 2006 amendment to those regulations.  

So, a warning indeed to all foreign educators involved in degree programmes in China: do your due diligence and make sure everything you are doing is above board and that all approvals have been obtained from the MoE in advance.  Those cooperative programmes operating within the parameters of their licences and observing the spirit and conditions of the 2003 regulations (amended in 2006) have little to be concerned about, save for an potential increase in monitoring by the HE bureaucracy.  This announcement merely announces that existing regulations will be much more strictly enforced with contravention of regulations being investigated by local/provincial education bureaus, the MoE and (if necessary) by the Public Security Bureau.  

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