Open universities are a new thing. Whether discussing the Open University of China or local open universities represented by Shanghai Open University or Jiangsu Open University, all have explored their way forward in the process of construction over the past five years, striving to build a new type of open university that differs from traditional colleges and universities and that can integrate into the social life.

They have chosen different paths in line with their actual local conditions, and the practice can be described as colorful. In the meantime, local radio and TV universities (RTVUs) have also made positive explorations for themselves to transform into open universities oriented to the needs of their own provinces or municipalities.

The Open University of China: Taking Shape with Clear Direction

According to President Yang Zhijian of the Open University of China, the construction of open universities not only involves renovation of “the old city” but also construction of “the new city”, as well as construction of “the new city” inside “the old city”, in a sense. The problems faced are complicated and arduous, and can be said to be unprecedented.

Although beset with difficulties, the OUC is beginning to take shape after six years of hard work. This shape can be summarised as “1,2,3,4,5,6”.

“One” stands for the one purpose of promoting overall lifelong learning. “Two” stands for the two major tasks of vigourously developing non-degree continuing education and steadily developing degree continuing education. “Three” stands for the three pillars of joint building and governance of the school organisation system, further integrated education digitalisation, “tolerant entrance and strict exit”, and the credit bank system. “Four” stands for entity, system, alliance, and platform in one. “Five” stands for the five unifications of brand, standard, platform, management, and evaluation. “Six” stands for the six-network integration of online learning space, online core courses, online teaching team, online learner support, online examination and assessment, and online teaching management.

The advancement direction of the OUC has become clear. In the OUC’s “13th Five-Year” Development Plan (Draft), it is said that the OUC will become a new type of university in China’s higher education system, a high level open university with Chinese characteristics in the world open university system, and a major focal point in China’s learning-oriented society by 2020.

President Yang Zhijian indicates that the most urgent issues facing the OUC are quality, reputation and brand, the fundamental issue of deepening education and teaching reform, and the key issue of operating the school oragnisational system with high efficiency. Based on full investigation and widely solicited opinions and consideration of the history, reality and future, he puts forward the basic ideas for the construction of the school organisational system as “innovative development, group operation of education, joint construction and governance, and making progress while ensuring stability”. Next, the OUC will further clarify the responsibilities and rights of all parties participating in the construction according to the basic framework of “the headquarters, branches, schools, and study centres”, support innovation in the internal management system and operation mechanism of the school organisational system, and construct the new open school organisational system with wide social participation and joint construction and governance.

By Liu Zenghui , E-Learning