The Open University of China (OUC) is a complete teaching and management system established on the basis of China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU) and local radio and TV universities (RTUVs). At present, the school organisation system of the OUC is made up of the headquarters, branches, local colleges, study centres, and industry and corporate colleges. Together, these bodies help to guarantee that the OUC can give full play to the advantages of its system and of modern information technology, realise three-dimensional coverage of its operating network across the urban and rural areas, and provide diverse continuing education services and learning opportunities for all members of society in China.
The OUC’s system structure and operating mechanism are as follows:
I. System Structure
1. The Headquarters
The headquarters is the core leading body of the OUC’s organisation system. The headquarters’ main responsibilities include studying and formulating macro policies, development plans, quality standards, and teaching processes according to national education principles and policies, and the needs of economic and social development, as well as the purpose, mission, and characteristics of the OUC, in order to comprehensively coordinate the OUC’s organisation system and implement tasks such as learner development, scientific research, social services, educational informatisation, and the construction of the credit bank. The headquarters, established on the basis of the former CCRTVU, should constantly adapt to the changes of the external macro environment and the needs of internal reform and development, further clarify its positioning, set up and adjust related institutions in a scientific way, straighten out internal and external relations, study and formulate specific policies and measures, and lead the construction and development of the entire organisation system.
The branches are leading local organisations established by the OUC’s organisation system in provinces, districts or cities. The main responsibilities of the branches include the construction and management of local colleges and study centres according to relevant policies and regulations and the OUC’s unified university operating standards of the OUC, and to carry out teaching and scientific research; the construction of specialised courses with unique features, quality inspection, and assessment; the promotion of educational informatisation; and the construction of credit bank sub-centres. By relying on institutions of higher education, including RTVUs and open universities at the provincial level, the branches of the OUC are established through cooperation and co-construction on a voluntary, equal foundation with clearly specified rights and responsibilities for all parties involved. The branches should, according to the overall framework for OUC construction and reform, set up corresponding teaching and management institutions in a rational, scientific way, coordinate operating work within certain regions, and continuously improve the quality of learner development.
The construction of colleges includes the construction of local schools, industry and corporate colleges, specialised schools and experimental schools.
A. Local Schools. Local schools are established and managed by branches in their respective regions according to related OUC construction standards. The main responsibilities of local schools include organising recruitment, teaching, management, and quality assurance in line with relevant OUC policies the needs of local education, focusing on the cultivation of professionals in related disciplines and non–degree education and training programmes.
B. Industry and Corporate Colleges. Industry and corporate colleges are established by the OUC headquarters or branches in cooperation with national industrial associations (societies) and large-scale enterprises. The main responsibilities of industry and corporate colleges include carrying out personnel training and education based on the characteristics of industries and enterprises in accordance with relevant OUC policies and the learning needs of on-the-job employees. Industry and enterprise training programmes may be linked and bridged through the credit bank to relevant majors in certain OUC disciplines and courses.
C. Specialised Schools. Specialised schools are built or managed by the OUC headquarters or branches in cooperation with relevant ministries and institutions according to the learning needs of specific groups. The main responsibilities of the specialised schools include carrying out targeted personnel training and education programmes and corresponding coordination and management work according to relevant OUC policies and the learning needs of specific groups. In this way they continuously meet the diverse and personalised learning needs of specific groups.
D. Experimental Schools. Experimental schools are built by the OUC headquarters or branches according to the needs of education and teaching reform and technological development trends. The main responsibilities of the experimental schools include developing corresponding experimental exploration and reform and innovation work around the models of university operation, cultivation and training, technical support, learning achievement accreditation, accumulation, and transformation certification, as well as teaching content, curriculum systems, and examination methods, so as to lead and promote the reform and development of the OUC.
4. Study Centres
Study centres at as terminals for the organisation system of the OUC at the local grassroots level, directly implementing personnel training and education for learners. The main responsibilities of the study centres include carrying out enrolment, examinations, and specific teaching management, teaching guidance, and learner support services under the guidance of branches and colleges. Study centres may be set up and managed by branches or local schools, industry and corporate colleges, specialised schools or experimental schools authorised by branches in corresponding regions, industries or enterprises according to relevant OUC policies and standards. Study centres should adapt to the changing economic and social environment and current technological development trends and further strengthen their research, construction, and management work.
II. Operating Mechanism
1. Advisory and Decision-making Mechanism: University Council and University Affairs Committee
The OUC has set up a university council made up of representatives of all parties involved in the construction of the OUC’s operating organisation system, the Ministry of Education, and other representatives of society. It mainly conducts research, deliberation, decision-making, consultation, inspection, and supervision of the OUC’s development plan and basic system of education and teaching, as well as major reform and development issues.
The OUC has set up a university affairs committee that acts as an executive organ for university operations and management. The members of the University Affairs Committee include the president of the OUC and the presidents of the OUC branches. It is responsible for organising and carrying out tasks including the formulation of reform and development plans, annual work plans, and budgets and final accounts, as well as the teaching reform, quality assurance, educational informatisation, scientific research, and international cooperation.
The OUC has set up special committees for academic studies, academic degrees, and quality assurance in order to promote academic autonomy and quality management.
2. Unified University Operation and a Hierarchical Management Mechanism
In order to maintain the level, quality, reputation, and brand of university operation, and constantly strengthen the development of the university, the OUC has implemented a unified operating system. The principle of "unified brand, standard, platform, management, and evaluation" is implemented with the goal of developing university operation, basic system of education and teaching, standard and model of personnel training, as well as disciplines, majors, course structure, and teaching content and examination methods, in order to realise the integrated operation of teaching, management, services, and other business work. A hierarchical management system is applied in the process of internal management in accordance with the responsibilities and tasks of the headquarters, branches, colleges, and study centres. It is necessary to strengthen the overall management role of the headquarters and the branches, with the headquarters coordinating the affairs of the system across China and the branches taking care of regional affairs.
3. Complementary Development and a Resource Sharing Mechanism
The organisation system of the OUC is constructed in cooperation with colleges and universities, industries, enterprises, and relevant social institutions with different characteristics, implementing an effective mechanism of complementary development and resource sharing. Branches, industry and corporate colleges, specialised schools and experimental schools can set up their own majors at the junior college or undergraduate level according to the principle of "complementary development" and relevant construction standards. Lecturers, textbook editors-in-chief, and course leaders of relevant courses can be hired from among teachers at the OUC headquarters or branches, or experts and scholars with relevant qualifications from colleges, universities, industries or enterprises. Teaching resources from across the OUC system should be integrated and a teaching team should be set up in order to strengthen teaching support services. Co-construction and sharing of the digital library and learning resources should be realised.
4. Cost and Benefit Sharing Mechanism
According to relevant OUC policies and the division of tasks in the process day-to-day operations, all units within the OUC’s organisation system should invest corresponding human, material, and financial resources to ensure that the basic conditions for school-running are met. Degree education will be charged on a course credit basis and divided and used according to the proportion negotiated by all parties involved. For non-degree education programmes, methods of specific investment and benefit distribution should be specified in the form of project agreements.
5. Mechanism for Voluntary Joining and Quitting in Accordance with Regulations
The organisation system of the OUC explores a mechanism for "voluntary joining and quitting” based on the regulations. RTVUs, open universities, and other institutions of higher education, as well as enterprises and social institutions in related industries, may participate in the co-construction and co-governance of branches, colleges, and study centres on a voluntary, equal basis in accordance with the relevant policies and regulations of the OUC. In the process of cooperation in university operation, any parties who intend to withdraw from further cooperation may apply for withdrawal in accordance with relevant regulations. For those who fail to effectively perform the responsibility of joint construction as stated in the corporation agreement, the OUC has the right to require them to withdraw.