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Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 07:07:03 -0400
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: "Leibo, Steven A." <leibo@cnsvax.albany.edu>
Subject: H-ASIA: Private Colleges Hit China

From: Don Clarke <dclarke@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Private Colleges Hit China

From: Patrick Randolph <PRANDOLPH@CCTR.UMKC.EDU>
To: <clnet@u.washington.edu>
Sent: Sunday, May 30, 1999 8:19 PM
Subject: Private Colleges Hit China

Private Colleges Hit China

By Patrick Randolph <PRANDOLPH@CCTR.UMKC.EDU>, 30 May 1999

I thought I'd report on new developments in higher education in China that have arisen only in the last few years. Many on the list perhaps are familiar with these developments, but they were news to me, and I assume will be new to some others.

A year ago, my Beida co-author, Lou Jianbo, introduced me to a friend of his that he knew from college days in Beijing, although the friend, unlike Jianbo, was not a Beida graduate. At that time, the purpose of the introduction was for me to get help buying t-shirts. The friend was in the "general provisions" business, he arranged to supply things to people who wanted them. He had some catalogues of souvenir items that he could have embossed with logos of various institutions, he wholesaled t-shirts to the outlet on campus, and he also did a little tour arranging and similar stuff. In short, he was an entrepeneur. Today, he is a college president.

Somehow, in the summer months after I met him, this guy put together an arrangement to establish a campus of Beijing United University. This is a private school, with a residential campus in the same Beijing suburb where Beida has a facility housing its freshmen. He leases his classroom and dormitory buildings from Beida, but I gather his place is located physically apart from the Beida campus in that city. He offers four year curricula in six subject areas, including computer study, law, and a few other disciplines not heavily dependent upon laboratories. Most of the faculty are moonlighting Beida professors, who make more working for him part time than they do in their regular appointments.

The tuition at Beijing United is close to 8000 yuan per year, including housing, quite a bit more than the 3000 yuan nominally charged to Beida students, many of whom get scholarships anyway. Also unlike Beida, outstanding performance on the national qualifying exam is not a prerequisite to admission to Beijing United - ability to pay is a primary consideration. Beijing United is supervised by the State Education Bureau, which has put a ceiling of 10,000 yuan on tuition, but competitive factors have kept the tuition a little lower than the maximum allowed. Apparently there are 13 campuses of Beijing United, each campus separately owned and operated. About five are related to Beida, and the rest to other local public universities.

Here's the big story: upon graduation, the students take a qualifying test, and if they pass, they get a bachelors degree FROM BEIDA!!! I assume that most employers will be savvy enough to ascertain whether the degree presented to them was earned at the "real" Peking university or at Beijing United. But there's little question nevertheless that these degrees will be quite valuable.

So, the State Universities get revenue from their landholdings, through a more education-oriented use than devoting allocated land use rights to hotels, office buildings and retail outlets (which Beida also does). Their faculty are able to continue their academic careers and to earn income that narrows the gap between their low salaries and the opportunities that beckon from the private sector. More Chinese get educated, and capitalism distributes more rewards to those Chinese who find ways work the system to accumulate wealth. What's not to like?

I am told that in the last few years private colleges like Beijing United have proliferated on the fringes of major cities throughout China. Will intercollegiate sports be far behind?