News & AnalysisHigher Education

With Eye to Innovation, China Revamps Its Universities

Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 634-635
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.634

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For nearly 2 decades, Yang Fujia has been dreaming about building a world-class university in China. Now Yang is establishing a private liberal arts college in Tianjin, with enrollment to start, he hopes, in the fall of 2013. In crafting his new institution, the 76-year-old nuclear physicist–turned-educator is taking cues from top Western universities. Students at the new institution will live in Oxford-style residential colleges, attend small classes, and participate in self-organized activities. Yang also hopes to correct what he calls "the biggest problem in Chinese higher education": Most Chinese universities, he says, focus on teaching students skills rather than nurturing their personal development.

  • * With reporting by Mara Hvistendahl.