Category Archives: Education

History exam question inflames Hong Kong again

An uproar is growing in Hong Kong society again over a controversial exam question, which was deleted from high school test papers after intervention by the government last week. Here is a good explainer of the issue (SCMP), which relates to the relationship between China and Japan from 1900 to 1945.  

Yesterday, the deputy head of the Education Bureau said, “On major issues of right and wrong, such as invasions, massacres and ethnic cleansing, we should never lead students in their basic education stage to discuss their positive values.” (SCMP) 

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In Shenzhen, vocational education steps up

Shenzhen is renowned as a city of doers rather than thinkers. Despite the presence of Huawei, Tencent, DJI, and many other highly successful technology firms, its universities lack national and global recognition. The government appears determined to address this perceived shortcoming in typical leapfrog manner, wooing Tsinghua and Peking universities from Beijing to set up joint-venture postgraduate projects in Shenzhen, as well as one of the world’s most prestigious names, Cambridge University, which is looking at an opportunity in the Qianhai special economic zone.

However, Shenzhen is nothing if not a city of pragmatists, and its leaders recognize that a practice-makes-perfect approach to development has proven strengths. While education officials pursue the world’s leading academic minds, they are also pouring resources into vocational education institutes. And they have no qualms experimenting with “dual-track” approaches to learning – research and application-based – to see what works best.

Their latest experiment is Shenzhen Technology University, which welcomed its first batch of 807 freshmen on September 15. This university, which was only approved by the Ministry of Education last December, is seeking to establish a new model for vocational education at the undergraduate level and above. What this means, in practical terms, is it wants to attract the brightest minds in technology, and put them to work here in the most effective way.

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World university rankings boost Shenzhen

Parents of high-schoolers across the Greater Bay Area are probably interested in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which were released yesterday. The usual contenders were up there, with China led by the two Beijing elite schools, Tsinghua and Peking (23rd and 24th), while the Greater Bay Area was led by Hong Kong’s top trio of HKU (36th), HKUST (41st), and CUHK (53rd).

Guangdong was led, as usual, by Sun Yat Sen University, whose main campus is in Guangzhou. It was eighth in the mainland yet only in the 251-300 rankings globally. 

Officials in Shenzhen will probably be pleased to see that two of the city’s universities climbed up into the 20 best on the mainland: Southern University of Science and Technology (9th), and Shenzhen University (18th). 

They might not care that the University of Cambridge slipped a notch, overtaken by the California Institute of Technology. Third place overall is good enough to put Shenzhen on the world map for higher education, assuming the prestigious UK university does decide to set up a joint venture in Shenzhen with Tsinghua, as we reported last week.

Read the full rankings here.  

Shenzhen embarks on education upgrade

Stung by recent poor appraisals of its education system, Shenzhen’s city government has unveiled ambitious short-term targets for investment into and and upgrading of the city’s schools. “Suggestions for Improving Educational Quality” were unveiled yesterday by local media.

As Nanfang Daily reports, all three levels of basic education are being targeted. For preschools education, more public kindergartens will be built immediately, with the target set for a 50% weighting among the city’s total number of kindergartens by next year. Primary and secondary schools, meanwhile, will see enrolment jump by 25% in time for the 2020 academic year.

High schools and universities, however, are getting the most attention, as that is where the shortages are most severe. Only 47% of middle school leavers were able to enter high school in the city last year, and that dropped to 45% this year. By next year, Shenzhen will have established more than 30 new public high schools, providing an additional 60,000 places for students. 

More detailed plans are under way for the establishment of “high-standard” universities at a world-class level, the city says, which will involve :enhancing cooperation between universities in Shenzhen and abroad”.

Cambridge goes to Shenzhen

Shenzhen, is it often pointed out, doesn’t have any world-class universities. That may be about to change, as Cambridge University is exploring the establishment of a ”cooperative project” in Qianhai, Shenzhen’s special zone. 

The world-class university, which is well-known not only for its headquarters north of London, but for its curriculum that underpins millions of English-language high school exams worldwide, has sent its executive vice president to Shenzhen on what appears to be more than a fact-finding trip. 

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Luohu to build GBA City University

Luohu, the district of Shenzhen where the “economic miracle” began, is not the prettiest part of the city. But it is also not short of dynamism, as any visitor will attest. Hustle and Bustle both grew up here. Now the district wants to improve its street-cred in the tertiary education industry. And so, it has decided to establish a City University for the Greater Bay Area.

According to the Shenzhen Evening News, the new institution will follow the “Many Campuses for One School” mode for its construction. The project will be launched in a collaborative effort with Shenzhen Open University.

Luohu is engaged in a massive upgrade program across its entire school system at the moment. Despite concerns across the city about not having enough places for children of local residents in the public school system, Luohu district officials say this is not happening on their watch. The district has just this year redeveloped two schools, adding 4,300 places for first-graders and 1,749 for seventh-graders. Next it will focus on pre-school education, and plans to open 25 new public kindergartens by the end of the year, more than tripling the current number.

Huawei goes to Jiangmen

Huawei Technologies is looking far and wide, high and low, for talent. As we have written recently about its Dongguan campus, which aims to attract PhDs from all over the world, the company is determined to become reliant on resources within the borders of its home country. Its latest step in this quest has led it to Jiangmen, the GBA municipality on the western side of the Bay.

The Jiangmen Vocational College signed an agreement with Huawei yesterday to “explore the integration of production and education”. What this means in plain terms is that they will jointly build the Huawei Institute of Information and Network Technology, otherwise known as the Huawei ICT Academy.

It’s only a RMB7 million investment, but it was enough to get the district mayor out for th signing ceremony, according to Nanfang Daily.

There is a lot of rhetoric in the press statement, so it’s hard to know exactly what is different about this collaborative agreement than a standard classroom or building sponsored by a tech giant. It seems that Huawei will basically have first access to any budding AI talent that emerges from the district. It’s all in the name of the GBA, needless to say.

Harrow School chooses Shenzhen

Harrow School is officially coming to Shenzhen: the 400-year-old school that counts princes and prime ministers among its alumni has signed a service agreement with the city’s Qianhai district government to build a campus there. 

The special economic zone has grand ambitions for the coming years. At the moment, it is largely a massive construction zone with a cluster of buildings but not as many occupants as it would like. But according to its masterplan, the area is expected over the next few years to house a 500,000-strong workforce and as many as 200,000 residents. 

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UK university to boost biotech, healthcare in Shunde

Foshan’s Shunde district has signed a contract with the University of Bradford from the UK to establish a biotech and healthcare innovation center at Shunde’s Sanlongwan hi-tech zone. 

The China-UK iBridge project aims to develop technologies to tackle neuro diseases for the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Shunde currently has more than 600 biotech and medical equipment companies.

Read more in Chinese. 

Country Garden buys UK private school

The Nasdaq-listed education affiliate of China’s third largest property developer by sales, Foshan-based Country Garden, has agreed to buy a private high school operator in the U.K. for £150 million, reports Caixin Global.

Bright Scholar Education Holdings Ltd, which operates K-12 international and bilingual schools in China, is to acquire CATS Colleges Division from Cambridge Education Group. 

CATS operates private high schools mainly catering to international students. It has seven campuses globally, including one in Shanghai. Its net revenue was approximately £89 million in 2018. Bright Scholar currently has a network of 62 schools throughout China with more than 42,000 students since establishing its first Country Garden School in Foshan’s Shunde.