2015 could be rated as a year of innovation and entrepreneurship. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang first put forward the idea of “massive entrepreneurship and innovation” at the Davos Forum in September, 2014. Again, in 2015, Premier Li further expounded this idea in that year’s government work report. Against the background of the “New Normal” economy in China, massive entrepreneurship and innovation is deemed as the national strategy to propel economic restructuring and industrial upgrading, creating new engines and dynamism for development, and blazing an innovation-driven trail for growth. In face of the transition of manufacturing and the emerging of various new technologies, especially the new type of business conjured up by “Internet plus”, the implementation of massive entrepreneurship and innovation, undoubtedly, calls for new standards of higher education, in particular, the graduate education centering on cultivating creative elites with entrepreneurial spirit. In this sense, a series of policies aimed at assisting the implementation of massive entrepreneurship and innovation have been released by the State Council, the Ministry of Education, etc. over the past year, thus making clear the new demands and ideas for graduate education in China.
In order to improve the overall cultivation of high-level entrepreneurial talents with innovation, the structure of our nation’s graduate education should be further optimized by clearly defining the objectives for cultivating academic graduates and professional graduates respectively. Large quantities of academic elites who are broad-minded, acute, with a solid theoretical basis and ready for highly difficult mental challenges are nurtured through tailing closely after global research fronts and relying on original basic theoretical research. By doing so, new thoughts, new theories and new approaches are provided for the enforcement of national innovation strategy. In accordance with the current needs of economic and social development as well as industrial restructuring, the cultivation of practical skills should be enhanced, first-hand experience should be enriched and teaching mode and methodology should be innovated so that many applied talents of high standard who meet the demands of specific industries, have a good command of new technologies and methods and are equipped with creative and entrepreneurial spirits and abilities will be nurtured.
The enhancement of high-level talents’ innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and ability also has new requirements for the graduate students’ management system in our country. The training units are mainly accountable for the overall quality of graduate students, while the supervisors are mainly responsible for the academic and professional accomplishments of graduate students. The subjects of liability must also be the subjects of power, which means the prerequisite of more liability is to give the subjects well-matched power. Otherwise, there is no guarantee for genuine improvement of graduate students’ quality with the ill-matched power and liability. Hence, to truly delegate the power of every layer to the lower levels and act accordingly with massive innovation and entrepreneurship among graduate students, the government authorities are strengthening the evaluation of degree-conferring units and entrusting China Academic Degrees & Graduate Education Center to do discipline assessments, and meanwhile, they are advocating that cultivation units should dynamically restructure the internal degrees and disciplines on their own in order to form edges and unique features in talent cultivation through competition. Each university is now intensifying the construction of internal quality assurance system and responsibility mechanism, and also granting more decision-making power to discipline units and supervisors in recruiting graduate students and curriculum-building.
The year 2015 is also the year when the general plan for “Double First-rate Building” was introduced. The new plan will better take into account the teaching quality, particularly the discipline level and schooling characteristics in terms of fund allocation, which means the universities with high teaching quality and unique features are likely to enjoy more fund. The basis and anchor of cultivating topnotch innovative and entrepreneurial talents among colleges and universities lie in discipline construction. It is convinced that under the direction of strengthened performance and dynamic support by “Double First-rate Building”, the discipline layout of each university is bound to usher in a new restructuring phase in order to form or accentuate its own advantages and characteristics. It will be inevitable for every university and college to face a big trial of how to make full use of the autonomy and how to rationally grasp the relationship between the whole and individual parts, the general and the specific.
Secretary-General of the Association of Chinese Graduate Schools
November 20, 2016