Lately, millions of students in China have been sitting for gaokao, the country’s annual National College Entrance Examination.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) in china, has confirmed that the number of students sitting for the college entrance examination hit a record 11.93 million this year, an increase of 1.15 million over 2021. The number was 1.64 million in 1977. The enrollment rate in higher education increased from 30 percent in 2012 to 57.8 percent in 2021.
According to data report published by tech giant Baidu and education website eol.cn on May 31, the number of online searches for gaokao increased 93 per cent year on year in the previous 30 days. The report also highlighted the examinees’ choices of majors they want to pursue in universities and their ideal universities.
Artificial intelligence topped the list of 10 most-searched majors, followed by mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and automation, and big data technology. AI has been the major with the highest popularity for three consecutive years. Biomedical engineering and health services and management were also among the top priorities, may be buoyed by increasing awareness of health management.
Over the past decade, more than 10,000 outstanding students have chosen basic disciplines, paving the way for independent talent cultivation, and the establishment of a solid foundation for building the world’s most important source of talent and innovation hubs.
In addition, the capacity of colleges and universities to serve major national strategies has continued to increase. They have undertaken more than 60 percent of the national basic research tasks and more than 80 percent of the national natural science foundation projects.
The universities have provided key technology for high-speed rail systems, nuclear power, biological breeding, vaccine development, national defence and other key areas. The institutions have also actively participated in the development of supercomputers, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and the Shenzhou spacecraft series.
Today, China has the largest number of scientific and technological talents in the world. The change in Gaokao epitomizes China’s development in half a century. The report by Baidu also found that over the past ten years, the popularity of comprehensive universities has declined, while that of science and engineering and normal universities has increased.
Critically, China’s President Xi Jinping has called on his countrymen to build world-class universities with Chinese characteristics. Indeed, the country’s higher education sector is on a new path of high-quality development with Chinese characteristics, while constantly taking the initiative to cultivate high-level innovative talent. During a visit to Renmin University of China in April, the President said the country’s universities should be deeply rooted in China and avoid simply copying foreign standards and models.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, stressed following the Party’s leadership and passing down revolutionary traditions in running universities. He stated that ideological-political classes should play their role in fostering morality, noting that such education should be tailored to the needs of young people at different developmental stages.
Xi expressed hopes that all young people in the country can keep in mind the Party’s instructions, strive for national rejuvenation, and work hard for the best results possible. According to the MoE, China has established the world’s largest higher education system with 240 million college graduates. The total number of students in higher education at present is more than 44.3 million.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, a total of 265 new majors have been included in the undergraduate programme catalog. Consequently, 17,000 new undergraduate programmes were added, and talent training became more adaptable to new technologies, industries and forms of business.
China leads the world in innovation and entrepreneurship education. Colleges and universities across the country have opened more than 30,000 specialised courses and 11,000 open online courses on innovation and entrepreneurship education. The institutions have also hired 174,000 talents as full-time and part-time teachers on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The capacity of colleges and universities to serve major national strategies has continued to increase, and they have won more than 60 percent of the national science and technology awards. The colleges also have undertaken more than 60 percent of the national basic research and more than 80 percent of the national natural science foundation projects.
Clearly, Chinese universities are redefining the role of higher education in the world. It is a lesson that needs to be adopted by developing countries to make their education systems more responsive to their developmental needs.