Chinese universities are being encouraged to gain global recognition by developing world-class disciplines and adopting reforms to enhance their competitiveness.
Specific measures should be introduced as soon as possible to provide targeted policy and funding support for colleges as China starts to promote its higher education institutions, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday at a meeting on innovative management of higher education institutions.
State-run and private schools are encouraged to develop diverse disciplines that feature their own characteristics, he told heads of 53 universities.
Breakthroughs in building disciplines for global reputations will help enhance the competitiveness of Chinese universities in international academic circles, which in turn will bring new momentum for economic growth, cultural prosperity and social progress, Li said.
Education is key to China's development, especially amid the current economic slowdown, and the premier said the evaluation system should be improved to give professors and researchers more authority in allocating funds as well as to ensure real benefits from academic innovation.
In addition, students should get more opportunities to practice what they have learned in classrooms and be encouraged to develop original ideas and research, he added.
According to the State Council's guidelines on promoting higher education, released in November, China aims to have a number of world-class universities and disciplines by 2020, with more funding from the government and the introduction of elite overseas scholars.
Last year, only two universities on the Chinese mainland - Peking University and Tsinghua University - were included in the global top 100 university rankings. Li visited both before Friday's meeting.
"The government should create an environment of equal competition for universities to develop their own advantages and boost diversity, which will facilitate their efforts to become world-class universities," said Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.
Meanwhile, the premier said universities should continue to use favorable enrollment policies for students from rural families, to provide them with equal opportunities.
Lin Jianhua, president of Peking University, said, "Educational equality is in line with quality higher education, and more than 15 percent of freshmen enrolled in our school last year were born into rural families."
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