The Open University of China (OUC) held a work conference in Beijing from 21-22 September 2020. The theme of the conference was thoroughly studying and implementing General Secretary Xi Jinping's important expositions on education and implementing the spirit of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and National Education Conference under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought with Chinese characteristics for a New Era.
It also aimed to unite with and lead the open universities in China to reach a common understanding, enhance cohesion, and seek common development, so as to realise the development goals proposed in the OUC Comprehensive Reform Plan (hereafter “the plan”).
Chen Ziji, director of the Department of Vocational and Adult Education of the Ministry of Education, attended the meeting. Leaders of the OUC and the Party secretaries and presidents of radio and TV universities (RTVUs) at the provincial levels and open universities (OUs), attended the meeting.
In his speech, Chen Ziji pointed out that the release of the plan is a milestone in the history of the development of OUs, marking the transformation and upgrading of RTVUs and a new stage in the construction of OUs. He put forward three requirements for the implementation of the plan.
First, all those within the OUC should have a deep understanding of the significance of the plan. The plan is a major achievement in implementing general secretary Xi Jinping's important expositions on education and an important measure as part of carrying out the spirit of the fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee and implement the directives given by vice premier Sun Chunlan in an investigation visit to the OUC. It represents the internal demand of the OUs for transformation and development and a conscious action to serve the national strategy under the OUs’ own initiative. It is necessary to reform and optimise the open education operation system and mechanism so that outstanding problems can be solved. The OUC must become a major platform for lifelong education, online education, flexible education, and international cooperation so as to promote the healthy and rapid development of open education in China in the new era.
Second, careful arrangements and work deployments should be made to promote the stable implementation of the plan. We should carefully study new situations and problems that may arise during the process of the name change and actively cooperate with local education administrative departments. The names of branches at the municipal, prefectural, district, and county levels should be standardised, and the OUC should use the name change as an opportunity to promote the transformation and development of RTVUs. The OUC should strengthen connotation construction, strive to win support from various parties, enhance the construction of basic school-running conditions, and constantly improve the quality of education and teaching. The Party's overall leadership over school work should be further strengthened and the presidential responsibility system under the leadership of the Party committee should be adhered to and improved. The OUC should deepen the reform of its internal management system and mechanism and focus on strengthening the basic construction of disciplines, majors, teaching staff, and scientific research capacity. The integration of industry and teaching and school-enterprise cooperation should be developed in order to constantly enhance the strength and core competitiveness of the schools. The OUC should improve the characteristics, tasks, management system, and operation mechanism of OUs in the new era, lead the transformation and development of OUs around China, and constantly improve the overall efficiency school running. We should concentrate on the strength of the system, expand community education and social training, do a good job in running education for the elderly, and build a platform for lifelong learning.
Third, organisation and leadership should be enhanced to ensure the smooth implementation of various reform initiatives. The OUC should continue to play a major role in overall planning and leadership and undertake responsibility for coordinating the construction of the national open education system and guiding and serving open education at national open universities. It should lead and unite OUs throughout the country to promote the construction of a learning society. To do so, it is necessary to strengthen communication and coordination, refine the reform tasks related to the implementation of the plan, and ensure that each reform measure is well deployed and implemented step by step and that it has its own well-established goals. Organisation and leadership should be strengthened. Regular research should be carried out and coordinated efforts should be made to find solutions to relevant problems. An overall plan should be made in order to advance reform work and any relevant progress should be supervised and inspected. Publicity and guidance should be strengthened in order to create a positive social atmosphere and lay a good foundation for the implementation of the plan.
Jing Degang, secretary of the Party committee and president of the OUC, made a work report entitled “Enhancing Cohesion and Concentrating on Strength: Taking the Initiative to Implement the OUC Comprehensive Reform Plan in an All-round Way.” He put forward basic principles and objectives for the comprehensive reform and interpreted the plan based on six key phrases: “positioning and Functions,” “education operations,” “operation system,” “quality,” “informatisation,” and "policy guarantees.” He stressed that the OUC should take the opportunity presented by the name change to promote the quality of education and teaching in an all-round way. It is necessary to carefully identify the existing problems, so as to compensate for any weaknesses, strengthen system construction, improve the quality of school running, and accelerate the transformation and development of the university, in order to better serve lifelong learning for all and economic and social development.
Jing Degang deployed work for the implementation of the plan. The first requirement is to improve political positioning. The second is to give full play to the exemplary and vanguard role of Party members. The third is to maintain discipline and rules and actively use the “four forms” of supervision and discipline enforcement so that a political ecology and a clean and healthy atmosphere can be created. Fourth, everyone should focus on the implementation of the work. Attention should be paid to feasibility studies in advance. The OUC should start by building a team and improving executive power, while also striving to create a culture of forging ahead. Fifth, the OUC should focus reform work on system construction. It is necessary to strengthen the Party's overall leadership over school work, establish business management, personnel, and financial systems suitable for the new type university, and improve the school running system by moving towards a conglomerate operation system. Sixth, it should concentrate on management system construction by doing a good job of adaptation, services, support, and guidance, and improving the governance ability and level of the school running system. Seventh, it should attach importance to services as part of system construction. It should do a good job of planning, coordination, and services, and establish a smooth communication, coordination, and liaison mechanism. Eighth, it should pay attention to the quality of teaching. It should face up to any problems, adhere to the fundamental task of moral education, and promote the integrated development of online and offline teaching. We must attach equal importance to both teaching and learning, and unify quality standards of school running. It is important to improve the quality monitoring mechanism and promote coordination between quality and school running policies. Ninth, it should pay attention to the application of resources. A sense of quality should be established. The learning resources application model should be innovated and a service system for learning resources applications based on the characteristics of open universities should be created. It is necessary to promote the application of learning resources so that the brand and influence of the OUC will be enhanced. Tenth, attention must be paid to the issue of internet lagging as the OUC strives for informatisation. It is necessary to build "One Road, One Network, and One Platform" to realise the one-stop management of various services, as well as convenient and smooth access to multiple terminals. The eleventh is the implementation of the credit bank. The OUC should ensure the quality of the credit bank, constantly improve the quality assurance system of the credit bank combining internal and external control, and improve the open education teaching guarantee system, which adopts easier measures for admission and stricter ones for graduation.
Leaders of the OUC Cao Guoyong, Ju Chuanjin, Liu Chen, Liu Xianghong, Li Linshu, Yang Xiaotang, and Lin Yu exchanged ideas on the implementation of the plan based on their respective responsibilities. Zhang Zongwang, deputy secretary of the Party committee and president of Tianjin Radio and TV (RTVU), Zhao Jihong, deputy secretary and president of Henan RTVU, and Li Qun, secretary of the Party committee of Ningbo RTVU, delivered speeches and exchanged views during the meeting. Group discussions were held for provincial open universities and RTVUs to exchange learning experiences. Working ideas and specific measures for implementing the plan were discussed, and opinions and suggestions were put forward. The conveners of each group gave reports at the meeting.
Jing Degang explained and stressed the importance of several relevant issues. With regard to the name change, he said that the OUC should seize this opportunity, act while circumstances are favourable, and actively work to obtain support from various parties, so that the work of renaming and archiving the RTVUs can be completed on time. In terms of transformation, the OUC should change its guiding orientation from quantity to quality, from degree compensation to knowledge compensation, from improvement of degrees to upgrading of skills, and from online to integrated online-offline development. In terms of quality, the OUC should face up to any existing problems and continue to defend the quality of its products and services. Regarding the OUC platform, the OUC must strive to create “four platforms” and build “One Road, One Network, and One Platform.” when it comes to policies, the OUC must work hard to win the support of local governments and solve the bottlenecks in reform and development. In terms of the system, all local open universities are expected to voluntarily join OUC system on the basis of equality. Furthermore, in terms of the OUC’s external work, Jing Degang stressed that it is necessary to build up the university's image, win resources, obtain support, and make achievements, while in terms of internal work, it is necessary to pay attention to teaching and strengthen capacity building. The OUC must promote reform, create its own unique own features, and work hard to implement the tasks proposed in the plan.
By Jin Hongyu,OUC