OPINION – Guangdong Higher Education Reform: Implications for Hong Kong and Macao

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On November 1, the Guangdong provincial government issued a notice on the development of education in the province in accordance with the 14efive-year plan, emphasizing not only the importance of improving the “global capacity, global competitiveness and international impacts” of provincial education, but also promoting the demonstration effects of the international education district in the region of the large bay (GBA). This opinion has important and positive implications for the development of higher education in Hong Kong and Macao, where higher education institutions are encouraged and given golden opportunities to expand their campuses to the GBA and to forge closer cooperation with GBA educational institutions in the collaborative program, cooperation in innovative research and development.

The first goal of the notice is that by 2025, around 12 to 15 universities in Guangdong province are expected to become the top-tier universities in China. In this aspect, universities position themselves as the “important point of integration” for the development of talent and technology. The Guangdong Higher Education Development Plan states that its goals are to strive for excellence in higher education, build top-notch universities in the world, and establish top-notch academic programs so that Guangdong universities can enter the top-ranking universities across the country (sina.com, November 1, 2021).

The Guangdong Higher Education Development Plan aims to ensure that one or two other provincial universities are classified as “double first” (first-class university and first-class university program) across the country. These universities are expected to be the leaders in producing high-level scientific results with originality and social impacts, leading Guangdong Province and the whole country in scientific research and results. Specifically, the plan is to transform six universities into top-notch universities: South China Agricultural University, South Medical University, Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou University of Medicine, Shenzhen University and the Southern University of Science and Technology.

The plan states that the development of higher education in the eastern, western and northern parts of Guangdong Province should be accelerated with the aim of establishing 2-3 higher education institutions with master’s degree programs to be offered and developed. . In this way, these higher education establishments will serve and strengthen the economic and social development capacity of the localities concerned. Thus, more than 20% of technology transfer contracts are expected to be built from 2020. In addition, one to two newly created higher education institutions should be able to offer doctoral programs and some of their academic programs. are expected to reach the first-class level in China.

Obviously, the Guangdong higher education development plan is very ambitious, trying to raise the level of provincial universities to the first rank while closing the gap in the development of higher education institutions in the regions of the l east to west and north so that some kind of parity will be achieved geographically and equal opportunities in the development of higher education will be achieved in the less developed regions of the province.

The second goal of the Guangdong Development Plan is to build a batch of top universities with a gross level of student enrollment (those who have reached the age of entering universities to study, ranging from 18 at age 22) from 53.41 percent to 60 percent in 2021. In other words, more students who reach university entry level should be enrolled in tertiary education so that all the province has more and better talent in the long run. Cultivating more quality talent is one way Guangdong hopes to increase its regional competitiveness and international stature.

Specifically, new higher education institutions will be established, such as Shenzhen Polytechnic University, Shenzhen Ocean University, Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation, and Guangzhou Jiaotong University, so that new programs in the fields of 5G, artificial intelligence, Internet and space technology, biomedical computing, ocean economics, smart economy, big data and public health will be developed in depth and in depth.

In addition, the plan is to help higher education institutions in the Pearl River Delta and other cities to develop their universities, such as the University of the Greater Bay Area, the University of Technology of Zhongshan so that science and education are integrated on the one hand. and production and education will be merged with each other, thus raising the building capacity of higher education in the maintenance and support of modernized economic sectors, and increasing Guangdong’s regional competitiveness and its international impacts.

At the regional level, Shantou should accelerate its development in higher education. Shantou and Zhanjiang should develop higher education groups with unique specializations, such as Shantou University, Guangdong Ocean University, Guangdong Institute of Petrochemical Technology, so that ocean sciences, biology, food science, chemical engineering and technology, petrochemical and gas engineering, textile science and engineering, and biomedical science will be introduced and further developed. Thus, these higher education establishments will promote coastal economic development and industrial sectors.

In the northern part of Guangdong, Shaoguan University will be developed to encourage talents in the fields of basic education, tourism and culture, medical health and ecological development.

The third objective is to encourage and promote more higher education institutions to develop partnerships with famous higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao. The goal of the plan is to develop 3-5 educational institutions owned by cooperative enterprises between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, and 3-5 cooperative research institutes between the three locations. The implication is that more higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao will establish their programs in Guangdong province.

At the same time, Guangdong Province will step up cooperation with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou), Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong University, Macau University of Science and Technology, and Macau City University.

In addition, the development of education along the Belt and Road initiatives will be strengthened by establishing various educational alliances in technology and humanities to attract more foreign universities and institutes to cooperate with educational institutions. Guangdong higher education.

Guangdong Province is also supporting the Shenzhen Polytechnic to establish a district on special vocational education in the GBA. Guangdong higher education institutions will welcome and recruit Hong Kong graduates into associate degree programs to further their education in the province. It will encourage quality graduate students from Hong Kong and Macao to participate in short-term visits to GBA higher education institutions.

The fourth goal of the Guangdong Higher Education Development Plan is to establish vocational schools and institutes for the province, including the construction industry sector which lacks high-quality technical experts. The goal is to increase the number of vocational schools to 350 by 2025 with a student population of 120,000. Under these circumstances, quality vocational schools will be created, including 100 schools that will focus on skills and knowledge. applied.

The implications for higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao are obvious. The Guangdong provincial government encourages and encourages higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao to enter the GBA, establish campuses there, establish joint programs, and jointly initiate collaborative research. The aim is to create a win-win situation in which local universities in Guangdong will raise their standards in teaching, curriculum development and innovative research, while universities in Hong Kong and Macao will be able to ‘Make full use of Guangdong’s large student body to develop and raise the level of research for the benefit of all relevant stakeholders.

In conclusion, the Higher Education Development Plan of Guangdong Province is an ambitious plan to increase the competitiveness of the province, raise its international status, improve the quality of its provincial talents, strengthen the base of knowledge and results of scientific research, to establish some provincial universities as first-class higher education institutions in China, and fully utilize the research forces of Hong Kong and Macao to achieve a win-win situation long-term. Under these circumstances, all universities and higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao should explore all available opportunities to locate their campuses in the Greater Bay Area, build collaborative programs there, and forge closer cooperation by research and student matters. as university exchanges. Integration into higher education institutions between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao is underway and this will be the most important indicator of socio-economic and educational integration in the Great Bay region.


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