TALENT EDUCATION

Double first-class” university doctoral students doubled? The school responded exclusively


Recently, media reports of “Guizhou University Graduate Students Will Expand Significantly: Guizhou University Will Increase by 9,000 by the End of the 14th Five-Year Plan” have aroused heated discussions, and some media have said that the university’s “doubled the enrollment of doctoral students” has been officially approved.

The person in charge of graduate students at Guizhou University responded in an interview with China Science News that the information was not accurate. From the perspective of the number of graduate students after the adjustment of the scale of the school, more than 7,000 new students will be added by the end of the “14th Five-Year Plan”, and the expansion process is also continuous rather than one-time. In particular, the plan is still in the drafting stage, and although it has been approved by the Guizhou provincial government, its implementation is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Education.

He told reporters that Guizhou University’s plan to expand the number of people and professional directions is mainly based on the actual urgent demand for talents in the rapid development of Guizhou Province, and there are also sufficient resources such as teachers and a perfect teaching guarantee system.

The enrollment dilemma of the “double first-class” universities in the west

On February 28, the Guizhou provincial government approved the plan to adjust the scale of Guizhou University, agreeing in principle to adjust the scale of Guizhou University to 57,000 by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan, including 35,000 undergraduate students and 22,000 graduate students (including 20,000 master’s students and 2,000 doctoral students).

At present, Guizhou University has more than 34,000 full-time undergraduate students and more than 14,000 graduate students. According to the approval, the expansion is mainly to increase the number of graduate students from more than 14,000 to 22,000.

The relevant person in charge of Guizhou University told reporters that the adjustment of the scale of the school is not only a change in the number of students, but also a series of supports such as infrastructure and teacher resources behind it.

In fact, for Guizhou Province, Guizhou University has special significance.

Although located in the west, Guizhou University has a history of more than 120 years, and is the only national “double first-class” and “ministry-province joint construction” university among the 29 undergraduate colleges in Guizhou Province, and the only university with a complete science and engineering undergraduate – master’s – doctoral talent training system.

As Guizhou Province puts forward the main strategy of focusing on the “four new” and “four modernizations”, taking new industrialization as the primary task of Guizhou’s high-quality development, there is an urgent demand for high-end talents. However, Guizhou, located in the west, is not only difficult to attract talents and retain talents, but also difficult to meet the needs of independent training.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, there were 79.51 million industrial employees in the country in 2021, of which only 930,000 in Guizhou Province, accounting for only 1.17%.

There are currently 10 postgraduate training institutions in Guizhou Province, and the number of master’s graduates in science and engineering is small, and more than 1,700 masters trained in science and engineering in Guizhou University in 2022 alone account for 80% of the total number in Guizhou Province.

“Half of our graduate students stayed in Guizhou to work after graduation.” The person in charge told China Science News that even so, the talents cultivated are far from meeting the needs of Guizhou’s rapid development.

In fact, Guizhou Province and the Ministry of Education have provided a lot of support to Guizhou University in recent years, and a total of 11 new doctoral programs have been added since 2018, with a growth rate of 122%.

But the seemingly doubling growth rate, even compared with other “double-first-class” universities in the western region, there is a big gap in the scale of graduate student enrollment of Guizhou University. For example, in 2022, more than 500 doctoral supervisors in the university enrolled less than 350 doctoral students.

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Source: Guizhou University official website

The “general trend” of enrollment expansion

“The demand for high-end talents in Guizhou’s economic and social development does not match the scale of independent training of talents, and the support for talents is obviously insufficient, and it is urgent to rapidly increase the scale of training of science and engineering talents.” At this year’s National People’s Congress, Song Baoan, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and president of Guizhou University, appealed in an interview with China Science News.

He suggested that according to the development needs of Guizhou Province, Guizhou University should add doctoral degree authorization points for materials and chemical engineering, biology and medicine, machinery, agriculture, veterinary medicine and other professional degrees.

Song Baoan introduced that Guizhou University has a solid foundation in science and engineering, and 6 disciplines such as resources and environment have entered the top 1% of ESI in the world, and in recent years, it has been approved as a national key laboratory and a provincial key laboratory and other scientific research platforms.

The aforementioned person in charge also told reporters that 80% of the incremental plan for graduate students will be invested in science, engineering and agriculture, focusing on software engineering, computer science and technology, machinery, energy and power, materials and chemical engineering, agriculture and other majors, most of which are urgently needed talents in Guizhou Province.

In addition to Guizhou University, in recent years, the Guizhou provincial government has also approved the adjustment of the scale of many local universities.

For example, in November 2022, the Guizhou Provincial Government approved the adjustment of the scale of Guizhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to 25,000, including 5,000 graduate students; in October 2021, it approved that Guizhou University of Finance and Economics will increase the scale of education to 25,000, including 7,000 graduate students, during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period; and approved that the scale of Guizhou Medical University will be increased to 40,000, including 10,000 graduate students.

At the same time, universities in other provinces in China are also expanding their enrollment significantly. In terms of the number of doctoral students, China enrolled 83,900 doctoral students in 2017, with an annual increase of about 10% since then, and exceeded 130,000 for the first time in 2022.

Expansion is not an arithmetic problem, quality is the key

“It is an inescapable reality that the universalization of higher education has led to the depreciation of academic qualifications.” Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of China Education Online, lamented in an interview with China Science News.

The expansion of university enrollment in 1999 was a major milestone in the history of education in New China. The year before the big expansion, the number of students enrolled in this college nationwide in 1998 was 1.08 million; In 2022, the number of students enrolled in the national master’s degree admission examination exceeded 1.1 million.

Even with such rapid expansion, compared with developed countries, there is still a big gap between the proportion of graduate students in China. Luo Jun, former president of Sun Yat-sen University, once publicly said that China’s total population is 4.3 times that of the United States, and the number of doctoral graduates is less than 1/3 of the United States, and the gap is very obvious.

At the same time, the problems brought about by the expansion of recruitment, such as resource matching, training quality, and employment, are also tricky.

“The key to expanding enrollment depends on whether the quality of talent training can keep up.” Chen Zhiwen said that in the education stage of high-level talents, the focus is no longer on knowledge learning, but on knowledge production, and there is an essential difference between the two.

According to China Education Online statistics, after the continuous expansion of enrollment in recent years, especially after the 20% expansion in 2020, the support of postgraduate training resources in some colleges and universities tends to be saturated, and the infrastructure of some schools cannot keep up with the speed of expansion, so that some colleges and universities have recently been exposed to the embarrassing situation that graduate dormitories need to be “lottery”.

In response to concerns about resource matching, the aforementioned person in charge said that Guizhou University has sufficient resources to ensure the adjustment of the scale of schooling, especially in terms of faculty, currently has more than 500 doctoral supervisors and more than 2,300 master’s supervisors. ”

Regarding how to ensure the quality of training, the aforementioned person in charge revealed that on the one hand, around the actual needs of Guizhou Province, the enrollment plan is accurately launched, and on the other hand, a closed-loop loop of postgraduate education quality is built, and all-round monitoring is carried out, such as the mechanism for the diversion and elimination of graduate students.

He also proposed that the supervision and punishment of education quality will be increased, such as the implementation of accountability for the problem of sampling of papers, and the restriction of recruitment, suspension of recruitment or even cancellation of supervisor qualifications for those who fail the assessment or graduate tutors with training quality problems, depending on the circumstances.

“Cultivating college students does not mean just looking at the employment situation in the year of graduation, but looking at the next ten or twenty years.” Tang Min, counselor of the State Council, is the most representative figure in advising on the expansion of university enrollment, referring to the expansion of university enrollment in 1999, he once said meaningfully, “Education should be forward-looking and serve the future.” ”

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