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China's first university independently recruiting students targets "elites"

03-05-2011 09:09 BJT

GUANGZHOU, March 4 (Xinhua) -- South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC), the country's first university which recruits students independently, is targeting elite students and hiring renowned professors to become part of a research-intensive university.

The university is widely regarded as the country's first test for a new educational system meant to give the students better training for innovative research.

"We want to build a "deluxe villa" from the very beginning, setting a high standard," said university founder Zhu Qingshi.

The SUSTC started its first semester on Tuesday after it finished its initial enrollment period on Monday. A total of 45 Chinese students were registered at the university's campus in Shenzheng in southern China's Guangdong province.

The university chose its freshmen class from 745 candidates who took the examinations last year. The exams were designed to test academic achievements, imagination, mental power, understanding and innovative abilities.

THE ENROLLMENT AND PROFESSORS

The enrollees come from 13 provinces and range in age from 10 to 17. Nearly 30 of the students did not take the national college entrance exam in June 2010.

Su Liuyi is the youngest student enrolled in the university. His mother said that Su had been basically home-schooled. Su took the national college entrance exam last year and scored a 566, which is above the score required to attend one of China's top universities.

Su later became the first student enrolled by the SUSTC.

"All these kids are talented, with extremely excellent backgrounds," said Zhu Qingshi, president of the university.

For their first two years at the university, students will receive instruction in general subjects such as math, physics and politics. Three members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences will arrive at the university by March 20 and teach undergraduate courses. Every year, each student will receive a 10,000 yuan (1,522 U.S. dollars) living subsidies from the university.

The students will then choose a research field according to their interests and will be granted a graduation certificate after earning the required credits.

Three Chinese academicians and a handful of renowned scientists have joined the SUSTC, drawn by a salary package for leading professors of around 1.15 million yuan per year. The figure is much higher than the usual salary of domestic educators, but lower than the international average.

INNOVATIVE ADMINISTRATION

"The campus is amazing and I can even have meals with my professors or the principal," said Hu Jizhou, a student from northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Zhu Qingshi designed the "no bureaucrats" style of the college.

At the retirement age of 64, Zhu was handpicked by the Shenzhen city government to organize a feasible new operating model to better tap the research and innovation potential of young Chinese students.

Zhu looked to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and recalled his visits as either a guest scientist or a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brookhaven National Laboratory in the United States, Cambridge and Oxford universities in the United Kingdom, the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Paris in France.

Finally, he decided that "we will not have bureaucrats. A council will be established to lay down rules and policies, monitor everyday operation but stay detached from the academic activities."

Chinese professors and university managers are usually part of the state administrative hierarchy. Principals, for instance, normally have a rank equivalent to a city mayor or provincial deputy governor.

Zhu, who enjoyed deputy governor-level status while heading the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui Province, left his bureaucratic status, instead turning the SUSTC into China's first university headed by a professor.

"So the professors will have meals together with the students in the same canteen. Even if we enroll more students in the future, this tradition will not change. We want professors and students to better communicate with each other," said Zhu.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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