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China: Going “mid-west” emphasised in the 2013 national plan for higher education

China’s annual national planning for higher education, made public on the website of the Ministry of Education recently, said little about world-class universities, but universities in the mid-west and collaborative innovation centres. Corresponding to the new foci, two national programmes have been brought to light:  first, the “Project 2011” which has been labelled the successor of Project 211 and Project 985; second, the Midwest Higher Education Revitalization Plan, soon to be launched.

The Project 2011 is reported to have been officially launched in mid-May last year. The Project aims to support a number of collaborative innovation centres set up jointly by universities, the research institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and that of selected industries. Currently, 35 centres out of 167 that applied are being reviewed for “recognition” in this project. 

Another shift highlighted in the national planning, at least rhetorically, is the goal set to bring higher education level in China’s mid-west up to the national average by 2020. Universities in the mid-west will receive special support under the Midwest Higher Education Revitalization Plan, for infrastructural development, personnel development, and guidance on collaboration and cooperation with foreign universities, etc. One hundred regular higher education institutions at the regional level are expected to benefit from the new initiative of going mid-west. 

Similar to those in the previous years, the 2013 plan continues to call for actions to improve the quality of higher education, including the establishment of internationally comparable accreditation systems for engineering and medical qualifications.  

Ministry of Education, PR China – 2013 Work Plan (in Chinese) Ministry of Education, PR China – Project “2011”  (in Chinese)