THE EXPLOSIVE growth of higher education in Britain is usually related to Tony Blair’s New Labour government and his “education, education, education” speech. But higher education reform has occurred formidably around the world and Zhejiang University of Media and Communication (ZUMC) in Hangzhou, China is no exception, writes Richard Winter.
Founded as a remote mountainous institute with 80 students in 1978, ZUMC has grown throughout its 30 year history and its green 859 acre campus on the bank of the Qiantangjiang river is now home to nearly 10,000 full-time students.
Just like Britain, the late ‘90s and early noughties induced a rapid growth in student intake:
- 1996 – 1380 students;
- 2000 – 2683 students;
- 2005 – 7636 students;
- 2009 – 9310 students.
The university’s new campus, which will take its first students in 2011, will see ZUMC student numbers break 10,000 mark.
The new Tong Xiang campus will be situated a short bus ride away and house a new generation of ZUMC students and the latest technological facilities.
ZUMC student Maria explained: “There are 1.3 billion people in China and with the growth of universities there are now 44,500 art students compared to 10,874 in 2003.”
The outside perspective of the Chinese government is a hostile one due to their fanatic political history of censorship and public control, but from an inside point of view it’s obvious that on many policies the Chinese government differs little from the British.
Ashley, a third year ZUMC student explained: “There are some funds given by the government but for the majority of students from wealthy families it is paid for by their parents, and then paid back once you finish.”
The investment appears to be paying off for the staff and students of ZUMC, and in collaboration with external sponsors thanks to China’s open boarder policy; it is now heralded as one of the top media and communication universities in the country.