Do Counterpart Support Policy Play the Role in Educational Equity and Efficient Issues in Chinese Higher Education?


 Presenter (s) Qun Xie, UMass, Boston, Shanghai University of Electric Power; Wenfan Yan, UMass, Boston

Purpose of the study
The Chinese Ministry of Education started the counterpart support program between the universities located in the eastern and western areas in China on June, 2001. 18 years have passed, do the Chinese university counterpart support policy play the role in educational equity and efficient issues in China?
This study is a part of a whole retrospective evaluation program, researches the implementation effect of the policy by analyzing the development data of the supported universities located in western area of China, and finds out the problems and biases in the implementation of the policy, in order to provide reasonable suggestions for the future development of the policy.

Literature Review
Chinese university counterpart support policy ” refers specifically to the 2001 Circular of the Ministry of Education on the implementation of the “Plan of counterpart support for Colleges and Universities in the Western region” and a series of policy documents. The goals of the policy include establishing a stable partnership between supporting and receiving colleges and universities, introducing material and intellectual resources to support colleges and universities, and promoting the development of aided colleges and universities.

Since 2001, there are three monographs, one provincial and ministerial project, two doctoral theses and more than 10 master’s theses, as well as a certain number of periodical articles. Li Ping (2006) analyzed the relationship between higher education and the coordinated development of regional economy since 1999, including the high correlation between higher education and regional economic development. Zen Zhangzhi (2010) studied the goal and significance, process and method, results and influence of counterpart support policy and practice in colleges and universities from three aspects: regional research, policy research and effectiveness research. Most of the dissertation studies counterpart support or educational counterpart support in specific areas. Qun Xie (2012, 2013) studies the problems and countermeasures of the implementation of counterpart support policies in colleges and universities by means of more standardized policy analysis.

The research in western countries focuses the development policy of higher education on close cooperation between individual universities and their regions rather than allocating limited resources between universities or regions. UK (Universities UK and HEFCE,2003) systematically assesses the contribution of all colleges and universities in seven regions of England to the development of their regions, and publishes the report Regional Mission: Regional Contribution of Higher Education. OECD and EU have carried out a large-scale international comparative study, and the main conclusions are as follows: reciprocity, especially economic reciprocity, is the driving force of “university-region” cooperation; the resistance of “university-region” cooperation is heavy, especially the resistance of funds; the successful experience of overcoming resistance is to promote regional innovation, human capital construction and social, cultural and environmental development; It is suggested that countries, regions and colleges and universities should make joint efforts, and colleges and universities should be more proactive.

Looking at the present situation of the research on the implementation of counterpart support policies in colleges and universities in China, there are some shortcomings. The total amount of existing Chinese research literature is small, and most of them focus on the summary of work experience, pays little attention to the university counterpart support policy implementation question. Few studies can “look at” the policy itself to find out the reasons. It is difficult to put forward suggestions for policy improvement.

Research questions
1)whether the main goal of the policy(education quality, educational equity and Efficient issues) has been achieved since the implementation of the policy in the past 18 years. Whether the colleges and universities in the provinces (Tibet and Xinjiang) supported by the emphasis have made a breakthrough in the development.
2)Whether there are outstanding problems and biases that hinder the implementation of the policy in the process of policy implementation.
3)What suggestions we should put forward for the improvement of the policy based on the analysis of the existing problems.

The main methods are survey and case study. Around the main objectives of the policy——education quality, educational equity and efficient issues, we select one or several colleges in each supported province as cases, and collect development data of these cases in the past 18 years through public data such as university development database, campus website, university development status data white paper, supplemented by questionnaires and field visits, to make classification and comparison; We pay special attention to the overall development of higher education and the individual development of the case universities in the key support provinces, such as Xinjiang and Tibet. Based on the comparison of the development data of the case universities and case provinces, this paper studies and analyzes the policy implementation overall status and existing problems.

The development data includes the data of subject’s development, faculty construction, student training and overall level of aided colleges and universities. For the same case university or the same case province, we study the development and change through the vertical comparison of the data in the 18 years; for different case provinces or different case colleges and universities in the same province, we study the differences in their development through horizontal comparison, analyze the reasons behind the differences retroactively, and put forward suggestions for the more effective implementation of the policy in the future.

The findings are summarized as follows:
1)Through the investigation and retrospective study on the development data of 24 case colleges and universities in 16 recipient provinces and cities, it is found that in the 18 years since the counterpart support policy was implemented, the quality, equity, efficiency of the colleges and universities located in western area of China have been rapidly improved.
2)Compared with colleges and universities in other recipient provinces, the universities in the Key provinces of assistance, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, have obtained more powerful support and achieved more effective development.
3)In the 18 years since the implementation of the policy, there are obvious differences in the degree of development and change among colleges and universities located in western area of China, which is the result of multiple factors. The differences of the initiative and the degree of investment in supporting universities, and the degree of action of the educational management departments in the recipient provinces are the two main reasons.

Significance of the study
1)Academic value: pay attention to the docking of higher education and policy research, study the present situation and problems of counterpart support implementation in Chinese colleges and universities from the policy level.
2)Application value: provide targeted suggestions for perfecting policy implementation, and to promote the sustainable development of counterpart support in colleges and universities in China.

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