The Open University of China (OUC) is a national open university that covers both urban and rural areas on the basis of the China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU) and local radio and TV universities (RTVUs). It strives to make diverse, high-quality continuing education services and learning opportunities available to all and promote education digitization by taking advantage of the RTVU system and information technology. Currently, the OUC has developed a complete teaching and management system consisting of headquarters, branches, study centres and industry and corporate colleges.
The OUC’s operating system and mechanism are as follows:
Ⅰ. The OUC System
1. Wukesong Headquarters
The Wukesong headquarters in Beijing is established on the basis of CCRTVU and under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education. The headquarters includes a university council, administrative affairs committee, advisory, academic committee and quality assurance committee and other teaching, scientific research and service departments. The headquarters’ major responsibilities include: formulating the OUC’s overall development planning, principles, policies, procedures and quality standards; organizing teaching, scientific research, service affairs and international cooperation and exchanges; promoting and developing, programmes, courses and learning resources; and evaluating teaching quality.
Branches are essential components of the OUC system and provincial teaching and management institutions set up by the OUC on the basis of original provincial radio and TV universities (PRTVUs). PRTVUs are still in charge of their asset, property and personnel relations. PRTVU administrative management structures remain unchanged. PRTVU presidents still preside over newly built branches. A branch’s major responsibilities include: formulating its development planning and polices under the guidance of its headquarters; establishing and managing local colleges and study centres; organizing teaching, scientific research and service affairs; developing teaching resources, specialties and curriculums; and evaluating teaching quality.
The OUC branches set up local experimental schools and independent colleges in accordance with the overall development planning of the university. A college’s major responsibilities include: formulating its development planning and relevant policies; organizing student recruitment and examinations; undertaking teaching management; evaluating teaching quality; promoting cooperation with local government departments and leading enterprises; and utilizing the OUC’s learning resources and training programmes to develop non-degree continuing education, such as vocational education and community education.
4. Study centres
The OUC branches and colleges set up local study centres in accordance with the overall development planning of the university. A study centre’s major responsibilities include: organizing student recruitment, examinations, teaching management, tutorial and learner support services under the guidance of a local branch or college; implementing training programmes; and developing community education.
5. Industry and Corporate Colleges
The industrial structure adjustment stimulates the needs for continuing education. The OUC has established many industry and corporate colleges and study centres through its cooperation with ministries, industry associations and leading enterprises to tap strengths of other social resources. An industry and corporate college’s major responsibilities include: formulating its development planning and relevant policies; developing teaching resources concerning vocational education and enterprise training; fully utilizing the OUC’s learning resources to promote non-degree continuing education designed specifically to upgrade vocational skills; and contributing to constructing learning-oriented industries and enterprises.
Ⅱ. The OUC Mechanism
The OUC adopts a two-level management model – headquarters-level and branch-level management – and operates in accordance with the principles of “unified strategy, common platform, resource sharing, relative independence and distinctive characteristics.”
1. Unified Strategy
The OUC system, including its Wukesong headquarters, branches, colleges, study centres, industry and corporate colleges, operates in a coordinated manner to uphold unified core values, missions, visions, strategic plans and quality standards and share basic principles and policies concerning schooling, programmes and curriculum-construction, learning outcomes recognition, resource-sharing, quality standards and assurance system.
2. Common Platform
The OUC provides a common platform for branches, colleges and study centres. With the help of information technology, it has developed a sophisticated, multi-functional and accessible network platform to satisfy the needs for teaching, scientific research, management, learner support and credit recognition. Local branches can set up their own network platforms connecting to and compatible with the OUC network platform. The OUC network platform also serves as a public service platform to provide educational services and support open to all social members, related universities and continuing education institutions.
3. Resource Sharing
The OUC promotes co-construction and sharing of online platforms and high-quality teaching resources in order to upgrade its quality, expand enrollment and reduce costs. It has formulated relevant policies to encourage active participation in the development of digital learning resources, construction of scientific research teams and the cultivation of online tutors for various programmes and courses. The OUC plans to gradually establish many digital learning resource centres in different branches which will be open to all social members to promote the development and sharing of educational resources.
4. Relative Independence
Local branches are entitled to formulate their own reform and development policies to establish colleges and study centres. They can also develop non-degree continuing education in line with regional economic and social development conditions. The OUC advocates the “distinctive development” of local branches and encourages them to cultivate different specialties and curriculums that can be adopted by the OUC teaching system and recruit students nationwide that meet required standards. The OUC also requires local branches to fully utilize existing curriculum resources to avoid redundant construction.
5. Distinctive Characteristics
The OUC encourages branches, colleges and study centres to operate in a way that suits regional economic and social development conditions. The OUC advocates branches, colleges and study centres to use the university’s teaching network, learning resources and training programmes to promote non-degree continuing education and develop various educational training services.