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Long-term effort needed to improve universities in poorer regions

By Ma Si and Shi Xiaofeng | | Updated: 2017-03-13 15:03

It is the best time to develop higher education in the country's midwest region, as the central government steps up efforts to support universities in the relatively poor areas, said Zheng Qiang, deputy Party chief of Zhejiang University.

But more sustainable measures are needed to ensure that universities can play an important role in cultivating talent and boosting economic growth, added Zheng, who is also a deputy to the 12th National People's Congress.

For the past four years, Zheng has been the head of Guizhou University in Guizhou province, one of China's poorest regions. The first-hand experience has made him aware how universities in less-developed provinces are making improvements.

"More than 100 universities in the middle and western regions have benefited from the government's strong policy support in the past several years," he said.

Citing Guizhou University as an example, he said it has received 4.5 billion yuan ($651 million) from the government in the past few years, which "has laid down a solid foundation for its development in the next 100 years," Zheng added.

The money not only makes it possible to upgrade campus infrastructure but also makes it easier to hire best professors from all over the world. When Zheng came to the university in 2012, only 17 percent of its teachers were doctorate degree holders. And now the figure has risen to 33 percent.

"This is a big improvement, but it is still less than the proportion in universities in the eastern regions, which often stands at 60 percent," he said.

"There is still a big gap between China's eastern and western regions in education resources. A long-term and sustainable effort is needed to address the problem," Zheng said.

Zhejiang University is one of the most well-known higher education institutions in China. Founded in 1879, it is preparing for the 120th anniversary celebration.

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