The CHE working paper entitled “Higher Education in China in the light of massification and demographic change: Lessons to be learned for Germany“ offers an overview on the entire Chinese education system including adult training. The paper examines the history of the development of higher education with respect to the change to Occidental or Soviet models; it analyses the present higher education system and its institutions as well as the distribution of students, reveals problems, and addresses challenges. The development is as impressive as it is challenging: student numbers increased from less than 4 million in 1990 to more than 20 million in 2005. At the same time, study fees increased from 18 yuan per annum to presently 450 yuan per annum.
Also, the number of students abroad jumped from 40,000 to 120,000 between 2000 and 2005. And of more than 10 million pupils wishing to study, only 5,6 million will obtain a study place. Equally impressive are the measures from the Chinese government to offer study places for the masses and at the same time strongly promote elites. For this reason, the paper deals with the reform projects “Project 211” and “Project 985”, which are dedicated to the promotion of excellence in China. An additional 6.4 percent of the annual expenditure on the higher education sector is being invested into these projects.
In a few decades, in China as well as in Germany, 30 percent of the population will be older than 60. For this reason, the issue of “life-long learning” will play an increasing role. The study presents the first steps of the Chinese government in dealing with future demographic challenges.
Finally, the paper develops ideas about the lessons Germany could learn from the Chinese experience and which activities could be useful in terms of making the most of the emerging potential. For the “Nine + Nine” initiative, nine Chinese and nine German universities came together in Berlin in October 2007 to hold a German-Chinese conference emphasising how important understanding China is for the German higher education landscape. The study intends to contribute to this mutual understanding.
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