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Daring Experiment in Higher Education Opens Its Doors

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Science  08 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6026, pp. 161
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6026.161

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Last month, Zhu Qingshi launched the South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC), a bold challenge to the country's education system. Among Chinese universities, SUSTC stands alone in spurning the national entrance exam, or Gao Kao; it enrolls high-flying students nominated not only for their grades but also for their creativity and passion for learning. In another innovation, SUSTC faculty members are not given administrative rank; in China, Zhu says, many professors spend more energy climbing this bureaucratic ladder than improving their teaching. And whereas other mainland universities have two leaders—president and Communist Party secretary—Zhu holds both titles and calls all the shots.