True value of education

Updated: 2014-05-29 08:44

(China Daily)

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In the recent annual report on the employment prospects of students of 75 universities under the Ministry of Education's direct supervision, China University of Political Science and Law is placed at the bottom. But the initial employment rate of graduates should not be the most important factor to evaluate a university's worth, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

Although employment ranking has many limitations, there is little doubt that many universities consider it the most important yardstick to measure the importance of institutions of higher learning. Before every graduation season, graduates are busy doing their internship and hunting jobs, and universities are busy organizing job fairs. Some universities even replace the subjects that are in low demand in the job market with those that are in high demand. In fact, many local authorities support a university only if it teaches subjects that can get their students good jobs.

But the initial employment rate of a university's students should not be considered the only or the decisive indicator to assess its standard and whether the four-year courses it teaches are worthwhile or not.

Looking at the development of higher education across the world, one would find that the employment rate has become a "marginalized" indicator. In the United States, for example, it is more important for a university to expose its students to diversified cultures and thoughts, and improve their knowledge and decision-making quality than to help them get employment in big companies.

Many students and universities in China have become utilitarian. While students see higher education as a means to getting good jobs, universities focus on how to sell their students like commodities. Perhaps with the commercialization of higher education, universities have lost the spirit of teaching students and developing all-round personalities, and become a medium for students to get jobs.

Higher education authorities and universities should confront the question: What is a university's role and what kinds of talents it should contribute to society. Moreover, it is time the authorities broke the shackles of exam-oriented education and freed higher education from the clutches of commercialization through deeper reforms.

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