With the approval of the Ministry of Education (MOE), in 2012 the Open University of China (OUC) was built on the foundation of China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU) and was inaugurated in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Comrade Liu Yandong attended the inaugural meeting and gave an important speech. The years later, the OUC had made plans and explorations in line with the OUC Construction Plan approved by the Leading Party Group of the MOE, and polished a concise “1314 Project” to advance the plan in an all-round way. New progress had been made in all jobs and a solid foundation had been laid for the advancement of the OUC’s reform and development.

Meanwhile, since the OUC’s reform and development are a matter of “building a new city on the old one”, the tasks of “renovating the old city” and “buidling a new city” coexisted, fcreating a number of contradictions and challenges, which predominately lay in the systems, mechanisms, ideologies, and models. These interlinked problems, contradictions, and challenges hindered the construction and development of the university. It was necessary to deepen reform and engage in systematic design to resolve key problems at the new historical starting point.

I. General Ideas

(I) Reform Objectives

By 2020, the new type of university’s basic systems with the OUC Charter at their core should have been improved and the OUC’s systems and mechanisms for construction and development should be perfected. New models for operating and managing the university, and encouraging learner development and social support should be established. The university’s reform and development environment should be upgraded and the overall university operating level, industrial competence, social contributions, and international impact should be raised.

(II) Basic Ideas

Guided by the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we should further implement the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and the 3rd, 4th and 5th plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee and the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jingping’s important series of speeches, and put into practice the overall strategic requirements of the “Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy”, and the concepts of innovation, coordination, green, and open and sharing development. We should adhere to the Party’s educational policy, preserve the socialist orientation in education, and persist in prioritising moral education in the cultivation of students. With the objectives and problems as the orientation, the improvement of education quality as the core, the reform of systems and mechanisms as the key, the reform of personnel and salary system as the starting point, and the reform of the headquarters’ teaching management as the breakthrough, we will continue to reform and innovate to strike a balance between “renovating the old city” and “constructing the new city” in order to realise the three major strategic goals of OUC construction.

(III) Primary Principles

1. Systematic. Key issues affecting the overall situation were identified in order to strengthen overall planning and systematic design, advance comprehensive reform, and to focus on solving important and difficult problems.

2. Individual principles. Individual innovative reform measures were taken in line with the nature, orientation, and features of the new type of university, taking into account long-term development and giving priority to multiple measures.

3. Feasibility. Efforts were made to strengthen the feasibility of reform measures and to create a risk assessment so as to ensure the effectiveness of the reform.

4. Synergic. The organisation and leadership were strengthened by taking into consideration both internal and external relations and coordinating the strength of all parties so as to make concerted efforts to advance reform.

II. Major Tasks

(I) Improve the basic university systems

1. Publish the OUC Charter

In accordance with the pertinent laws and regulations and in combination with the OUC’s characteristics, tasks, and features, the OUC Charter was published with the aim of identifying the nature, mission, orientation, system, mechanism, and model, and the corresponding rights, responsibilities, and duties, and to ensure the university’s legal status, its autonomy in running the university, and the effective operation of the university system. Based on the charter, system reform and innovation were advanced in order to formulate all the rules and regulations on university operation, management, teaching, scientific research, and support, which shaped the system framework for autonomous school operation, development, management, and control.

2. Improve the learning system of “enrolment through registration with tolerant entrance and strict graduation”

The OUC learning system of “enrolment through registration with tolerant entrance and strict graduation” was further improved in order to accelerate the advancement of registration for learning and to implement a “full credit system.” Corresponding reforms were also carried out in admission and registration, choice of major, course selection, examination and assessment, student status management, semester setup, teacher management, and tuition charging. Teaching process management was standardised to clarify the criteria for graduation and degrees, and their approval procedures.

3. Formulate a system of learning outcomes accreditation, accumulation, and transfer

OUC credit bank construction was pushed forward in order to explore the accreditation, accumulation, and transfer of different types of learning results, such as degree education and non-degree education, and informal learning. The role of the credit bank was brought into full play as a link between universities, governments, and society, and between degree education and non-degree education. The connection of multiple methods and processes of learning were encouraged to withdraw learning results in fixed instalments, to build a “bridge” for talent growth, and to keep the channels smooth for continuing education and lifelong learning.

(II) Deepen reform of university operation

1. Explore a more open university running model

A more open method of running the university was followed in order to deepen the reform of the university running system and mechanism, to bring into play the role of the market mechanism, and to explore running the university in cooperation with relevant universities, industrial enterprises, and educational training institutions. The interest community of cooperative university running was formed to build a university running organisation system for joint construction and governance, and to create an open university running model with Chinese characteristics.

2. Build a university running organisational system for joint construction and governance

The OUC university organisation system is made up of the headquarters, branches, local universities, and study centres, as well as industry, enterprise, special, and experimental schools. By way of joint construction and governance, regional branches were set up in cooperation with the RTVUs, open universities, and the related universities, industry universities were set up in cooperation with national ministries and commissions, and enterprise universities were set up in cooperation with large enterprises, formulating a three-in-one university organisational system of “industries, regions, and enterprises” covering urban and rural areas across China.

3. Push forward the innovation and exploration of pilot universities

The pilot function of experimental universities was brought into full play to advance reform of the “Six-Network Integration” learner development model and Internet-based management and operation mechanism, and to promote the integration of degree and non-degree education. The leading and demonstration role of the pilot universities accumulated experience for the OUC’s reform and development.

(III) Deepen management model reform

1. Explore and improve the university governance structure

The university governance structure was innovated in line with the characteristics of running trans-regional and trans-industrial open universities and system universities by setting up an OUC council made up of governments, cooperative universities, industrial enterprises, and relevant institutions. The university council, made up of representatives from the headquarters, branches, industrial universities, enterprise universities, special universities, and experimental universities, served as the executive institute of the university council. The presidential responsibility system was improved. The academic management function of institutions was brought into full play, including the academic committees, academic degree evaluation committees, and quality assurance committees.

2. Explore the establishment of a “two-level coordination” management mechanism

The two-level coordination management mechanism of the headquarters and branches was set up with the headquarters coordinating the country and the branches coordinating the regions. The management focus gradually passed down the system. The headquarters were in charge of coordinating the macro policies, development plan, creation of majors, teaching standards, and quality evaluation, and the branches were in charge of the university operation, teaching and management within their regions according to the standards and regulations of the university. The industry-enterprise university management system of “coordination by headquarters, responsibility by industry enterprises and school operation by schools” was formulated.

3. Strengthen the construction and reform of the headquarters

The major functions of the headquarters include formulating policies, setting up standards, coordination, and organising evaluation. The organisational structures of the headquarters were adjusted to streamline the relevant responsibilities of the departments. The headquarters’ teaching departments strengthened their coordination of the teaching business in the university organisation system. The democratic management and supervision functions of the headquarters’ staff representative conference, supervision commission, auditing commission, and other institutions were highlighted. Revision and improvements were made to relevant documents and policies for personnel, salary, charging, informatisation, and resource allocation in order to strengthen the management and reform of university-run enterprises.

(IV) Deepen reform of the learner development model

1. Innovate the “Six-Network Integration” learner development model

Education and teaching reform was deepened, with the improvement of education quality as the core. Talent training objectives were defined in order to advance the reform of the teaching content, curriculum system, and examination methods. With orientation towards the market, the professional disciplines and development trend were adjusted to explore the development of postgraduate majors. In order to meet the needs of the “Internet Plus” development trend, explorations were made to formulate a “Six-Network Integration” learner development model based on learning space, centred on online core courses, and supported by the online teaching team, learning support, examination assessment, and teaching management.

2. Establish a quality standard and evaluation index system

Establishing the university through quality was prioritised in order to set up a diverse quality view. The quality control and evaluation experiences of the institutions in China and abroad were studied and borrowed for use to establish the standards, a learner formation regulation standard and evaluation, and an appraisal index system, as well as the corresponding monitoring mechanism in conformity with the OUC’s nature and characteristics.

3. Strengthen teaching team construction

The orientation of the teachers’ roles was defined under the principle of “dynamic openness and full-time and part-time integration” with the aim of creating a a university organisation system including teaching, scientific research, management, learner support, and technical personnel, and construct a high-level course teaching team. High level teachers and industry enterprise experts were employed to serve as chief editors of teaching materials and main course lecturers. Teacher training was strengthened. Various methods were used to improve the teachers’ professional ability, and plans for the training of young and middle-aged teachers and “distinguished teachers” were implemented.

(V) Deepen reform of the social service model

1. Explore a new model of social service

A coordination system for non-degree education was set up in order to improve the development and management mechanism of non-degree education training projects. The role of the market system was brought into play to carry out diverse, individualised on-the-job training guided by professions and oriented towards enterprises. A new social service model of complementary advantages, mutual benefit, and win-win results was explored.

2. Strengthen community education services

By relying on the MOE Community Education Research and Training Centre, positive efforts were made to obtain relevant MOE policy and project support, bring into play the advantages of the university system, and study a new model and new mechanism for community education service in the new era. Quality education resources were integrated and utilised to innovate the community education service mechanism and to improve community education service capacity by working together with local governments.

3. Strengthen the construction of open universities for the elderly

Policies on national old-age service and education have been put in place in order to run the open university with the needs of the elderly in mind. The operation system of the open university for the elderly and the construction of courses for the senior health care major were strengthened. Educational support for cultural recreation, healthcare, and legal services were provided based on the needs of the elderly. The construction of the Healthy and Artistic Pension Service Experiential National Demonstration Centre was advanced.

III. Organisational implementation

(I) Organisational leadership

The University Comprehensive Reform Leading Group was founded to take charge of overall design, planning and coordination, advancement, and supervised implementation. The group’s leader is the OUC president. An office (the comprehensive reform office) was set up under the Leading Group to be responsible for all matters assigned by the Leading Group. People in charge of each department of the university took their leadership responsibilities seriously.

(II) Policy guarantee

Positive efforts were made to get policy support from the State Council, the MOE and other ministries and commissions, Beijing Municipality, and the governments of other municipalities and provincial capital cities where the OUC branches were located. Positive efforts were made to include expenses for the OUC construction and reform and development in the central government budget, to set up and improve fund raising system, to formulate public funds standard and ways to share the costs of learning and average student appropriation, and to increase special funding. The headquarters will make a special budget plan for reform based on the comprehensive reform plan and spare no efforts to ensure the implementation of all the comprehensive reform projects.

(III) Task implementation

Based on the comprehensive reform plan, all the departments from the headquarters, branches (local universities and study centres), and relevant universities formulated implementation plans for reform, clarify the timetable and road map, and assign responsible persons. A positive public opinion environment for the reform was created, publicity for the reform was intensified, consensus on the reform was reached, and strong synergies were formed. Relevant work mechanisms were improved in order to supervise and evaluate the implementation of the plan, and put reform measures in place through the combined approaches of performance assessment, expenditure budget, and resource allocation, and to ensure all of the tasks are completed on time. (Published on 12th March 2016)