At 10am on 31 August 2020, Cao Guoyong, executive deputy secretary of the CPC Committee of the Open University of China (OUC), launched the OUC’s 2020 autumn semester with a live video broadcast to all the students and teaching staff of the national system of open universities. The topic of this “first class” was “Building a First-Class Global Open University.”

Cao Guoyong indicated that the First Congress of the Communist Party of the Open University held in November 2019 had charted a development blueprint of the OUC,laying out three strategic goals to build a first-class global open university over the next 30 years. Over the past 40 years of operation, the OUC has reached a major consensus on building a first-class global open university in order to put into effect Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, in particular, his important views on education. This consensus fully embodies the strong resolve and determination of all the teachers and students of the OUC to increase their capacity to operate the university and improve the quality of learner development. In his lecture, Cao Guoyong discussed four key points, including whether the OUC has laid down a foundation for the construction of a first-class global open university, whether there is the possibility to do this, how the OUC can get down to work, and where it should start.

Cao Guoyong summarised the major achievements made over the past 40 years of the OUC. Since its establishment in 1979, the OUC has served the ideology of the Party and the state and made economic development its central task, and providing high-quality human capital for all areas of society. Over the past 40 years, the professionals cultivated by the university have been large in number, wide in coverage, complete in education categories, and broad in scope. The OUC has made significant contributions to making education popular, universal, and accessible to all. As an explorer in the field of open education, it has shaped an education system supported by modern information technology based on an “OUC Community” made up of 45 branches and local schools, study centres, and industry and corporate colleges. The OUC has also established a modern university governance structure consisting of the university council, university affairs committee, academic studies committee, academic degrees committee, and quality assurance committee. While strengthening its own construction, its has explored new paths for cooperation in schools operation, continually improved its national and international influence, and continued to integrate and use quality domestic resources. At the same time, it has also carried out active international exchanges and cooperation, and played a prominent role in raising the operation level of the university. In short, the OUC has made outstanding historical contributions to China’s economic and social development, and its achievements over the past 40 years have laid a solid foundation for the construction of a first-class global open university.

Later, Cao Guoyong set out the basic characteristics and laws of the development of world-class universities from an international perspective. He gave a brief introduction to the background of economic and social development in Italy, the UK, Germany, the US, Japan, Singapore, and China since the Renaissance in the 14th century, as well as the development of world academic centres and world-class universities. He also summarised the characteristics and laws of their development. World-class universities usually come into being as the power and prosperity of a country increases, and they grow in strength in serving their countries. Their numbers are varied and their categories are diverse, including comprehensive, multi-disciplinary first-class universities, single discipline universities, and open universities. With the ever-increasing role the OUC plays in serving the national economy and society, there is a clear possibility to build a first-class open university matching a modern socialist country.

Cao Guoyong underlined that it is imperative that the OUC learn from and earnestly put into effect Xi Jinping's Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It should reflect the new concept, use new technology, and promote new development in building a first-class global open university so as to foster a new generation of practical professionals for national development. First, the OUC should maintain the current direction of school operation, create a solid structure that follows the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and strengthens Party leadership, and nurture a new generation of capable young people who have a good and all-round development and are well-prepared to join the socialist cause. Second, the OUC should adhere to the fundamental task of fostering virtue through education, strengthen ideological and political education, explore the natural integration of ideology and politics into courses, and improve the construction of both courses and majors. Third, the OUC should insist on running the school as a system, give full play to the advantages of that system, form strong core competencies, and contribute to the construction of an education system serving lifelong learning for all. Fourth, the OUC should attract the best teachers with the best teaching and internationalisation strategies, gather together advantageous resources from universities, enterprises, and research institutions in China and abroad, and advance the construction of majors, courses, and teaching teams. Fifth, the OUC should persevere in the use of advanced technology and realise its new mission of building an “Internet+ University” while coping with the challenges brought about by changing technological development. Sixth, the OUC should hold fast to innovation and education and teaching reform, innovate its system operation model, prioritise the cultivation of innovative, multi-disciplinary, and practical professionals, explore the profound integration of teaching and technology, and strive to create “golden courses (high quality courses).”

Cao Guoyong reiterated that talent cultivation is the starting point and ultimate goal of building a first-class global open university. Today's young people should pursue and realise the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. They shoulder a glorious mission and great responsibility, and they are a promising generation. Cao Guoyong has several hopes for the OUC's students. The first is that they deepen their commitment to their ideals and convictions, have firm confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and practice core socialist values. The second is that they have the courage to make explorations and innovations, to vigorously advocate for the spirit of craftsmanship, become adept at discovering problems and analysing them in a scientific way, and be bold in solving them. The third is that they devote themselves to hard work and simple life, be brave in facing up to difficulties, and have the integrity to be diligent in self-cultivation and be strict in exercising self-discipline. The fourth is to serve China and her people, to make contributions in ordinary job, and to step up to the post the moment any danger arises. It is Cao Guoyong's hope that all students will cherish their time at the university and work hard to fulfil their dreams. Finally, he hopes that they will live life to the full, achieve excellence, and pursue their lifelong dreams.

The OUC headquarters, branches, and schools organised for their teachers and students to watch the first class online via multiple platforms, including the OUC cloud classroom, people’s video (, the OUC online Aauto Quicker account, the OUC online Douyin account, and the OUC bilibili. A total of 640,000 people attended the live broadcast course. After the class, teachers and students held exchanges of over email, WeChat, and QQ. It was generally considered that they benefited a lot from the class and they were greatly encouraged as they face the year ahead. In addition, they gained a deeper understanding of the mission to build a first-class global open university. The teachers from the OUC system said that the class was encouraging, accessible, and appealing. It aroused their enthusiasm for front line education work, meaning that they can better practice their educational mission. The teachers said that they would seize the day and devote themselves to the university’s educational cause. Students all over China also said that the class finally made them understand the phrase “time and tide wait for no man.” They will approach the new semester enthusiastically, work harder, and cherish their time at the university. They will learn and work with greater passion, step forward in times of strife, and pursue their dreams in the new era.

“The First Class” written in Chinese characters by Cao Guoyong

OUC branches watching the “first class”

Students from all walks of life watching the “first class” in their spare time

By OUC Academic Affairs Department