Leadership excellence programme promotes higher education reform

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A programme discussing the value of university education for society and students and how to improve leadership to facilitate a ‘student-centred’ educational revolution was held at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University.

The eighth session of Education Leadership Excellence Programme, organised by the Institute of Leadership of Education Advanced Development (ILEAD) at XJTLU, attracted over 30 senior managers from 11 universities across China, including Tsinghua University, Shanxi Normal University, Southwest Jiaotong University and Shanghai International Studies University.

“This year we focused on student learning as future education reform should start from the learning needs of students,” said Dr Xiaojun Zhang, deputy director of ILEAD.

“In addition, we strengthened the study and discussion of specific cases, discussing the influence and change we have achieved through the past seven meetings while having more cooperation between universities."

Professor Youmin Xi (pictured above), ‎executive president of XJTLU, delivered a lecture titled “Research-led education based on a student-centred mode”. From Professor Xi’s perspective, there are two reasons why students need research-led education. “The external reason is that traditional university education is highly impacted by high quality network education resources,” he said.

“The education mode in and outside of the classroom needs to be reshaped is the internal cause. Students have self-directed learning abilities and what staff need to do is to provide guidance to students and gradually change their roles from delivering knowledge to help students mature.”

Professor Jinghuan Shi (pictured below), executive vice-president of the Institute of Education at Tsinghua University, focused on the quality evaluation and governance system construction in Chinese Universities.

“University mangers should change their traditional ideas which lay high emphasis on ‘quality’. ‘People-centred’ and ‘learning-centred’ philosophies should not only focus on students, but also on staff and education. A consensus of a university’s educational reform content must be reached among staff and students across campus,” she said.

Professor Jianguo Wei (pictured below), president of Shanxi Normal University, shared the student-centred teaching reform in his university which is based on their practice. He said: “University classes should be student-centred in which students can explore, communicate and participate in class autonomously.”

Dr Xiaojun Zhang (pictured below) shared his opinions based on his research on university presidents in China. He pointed out that university presidents need to improve administrative power in three areas: teaching philosophy and strategy, resource allocation and establishment of a leadership team. Meanwhile, their power of allocating academic resources should be reduced.

Professor Xiaoyun Feng (pictured below), vice president of Southwest Jiaotong University, said: “Learning and teaching will have fundamental changes in the new era. The starting point of educational reform should focus on student learning and [academic staff] should use information technology to improve the efficiency and experience in both teaching and learning and create a meaningful study experience for students.”

During this meeting, participants explored the XJTLU campus. Professor Jianguo Wei said: “This is the first time that I have visited XJTLU. This campus, where there are many places for students to study and have discussion, has really impressed me.

“This kind of campus construction is very conducive to communication-style teaching where communication is the core of the new education mode,” he added.

By Yanzi Wu and Qiuchen Hu, translation by Yanzi Wu and Guojuan Wang, edited by Jacqueline Bánki
Photos by Liping Tian and Weiqian Zhang

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