25 September 2017
In January 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Education and Finance Ministries indicated three targets: to develop world -class universities and world -class disciplines by 2020, to have a number of universities and disciplines among the world’s best by 2030, and for China to become a higher education power by 2050. The Double World-Class Project, formerly known as World Class 2.0, was announced by China in 2015 in a bid to develop world class universities and high-quality research disciplines.
On September 21st, these organisations announced that 42 universities have been selected to strive for world-class status and 95 are designated to provide world-class courses. They were selected by an independent committee and there will a periodic review. Those universities included in the project will receive additional funding and will be allowed to recruit the most able students.
The Chinese provinces are expected to prepare plans for the rationalization, including mergers, of their higher education institutions. Hubei Province, for example, is proposing to reorganize its system so that two universities will be among the best in the world by 2030. Liaoning Province plans to eliminate 15 universities and 39 disciplines by 2020.
There has, however, been criticism that the new list will exacerbate regional and social inequality. Many of the 42 chosen universities are located in Shanghai, Beijing and the coastal provinces while there were none in several less developed areas.