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The Present and Prospect of China’s Vocational Education. Yao Shouguang. China Center on Vocational and Technical Education Exchange. ·.
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China Center on Vocational and Technical Education Exchange
At present, vocational education enjoys a sound development momentum in China. The Chinese government attaches unprecedented importance to the development of vocational education, while the social and economic development of China has a urgent demand on vocational education. Therefore, vocational education faces a great development opportunity in China. The national vocational education work conference held by the State Council in 2005 marked a new development phase of the Chinese vocational education.
My report today will focus on the following aspects:
1. The present of China’s vocational education
2. The prospect of China’s vocational education
1. The rapidly expanding scale of vocational education contributed significantly to the higher education popularization of China.
Over the past 2 decades or so, the 8 years since 1998 in particular, the higher vocational education of China experienced a rapid and steady development. As a result, China’s vocational education has made conspicuous achievements in such aspects as quality, quantity, level, education mode and talent fostering, etc. They are manifested mainly as follows:
In 2007, the number of students enrolled by the higher vocational colleges nationwide has reached 2.99 million, 6.26 times that of 1998, while the number of students enrolled by various secondary vocational schools amounted to 8.01million.
TOTAL Enrollment Nationwide
The proportion of the higher vocational colleges’ enrollment to the total enrollment of both the regular colleges and higher vocational colleges has increased from 39.8% in 1998 to 52.7% in 2007, up 12.9 percentage points. Meanwhile, the enrollment of the secondary vocational schools accounted for 48.8% of the total enrollment of the senior high schools.
Proportion of the higher vocational education’s enrollment to the national enrollment total of the regular colleges and higher vocational colleges
By the first half of 2007, the student number of the higher vocational colleges nationwide has reached 8 million, accounting for 51.2% of the total student number of both the regular colleges and higher vocational colleges; the number of independent higher vocational colleges has reached 1,176, 2.7 times that in 1998, accounting for 65.6% of the total number of the general higher learning institutions. Therefore, the higher vocational education has already accounted for half of the higher education of China in terms of scale. In the meantime, the student number of secondary vocational schools has reached 18.1 million.
Number of higher vocational colleges
In 2007, among the 1,176 independent higher vocational colleges, there are 540 colleges of science and engineering, accounting for 45.9%, having become a main force of the higher vocational colleges.
In 2005, the enrollment of the engineering specialties of the higher vocational schools amounted to 1.07 million, up 34.3% year-on-year, and accounted for 40% of the total enrollment of the higher vocational education, up 6.4% year-on-year or 14% compared with 1998. In the past three years, the graduates of the higher vocational schools have increased by 40% every year.
So far, almost every prefecture-level city has set up 1 vocational/technical college; and every county has set up at least 1 secondary vocational school. The distribution of the vocational schools are quite reasonable.
Since the higher vocational colleges’ education positioning is quite accurate; their education has its own characteristics; and their graduates’ adaptability is relatively high, they have been recognized gradually by society and thus their graduate employment rates are increasing year by year. In 1998, the higher vocational colleges’ graduate employment rate was only 42%; in 2003, the figure has gone up to 55%; in 2004, despite of the increase of 320,000 graduates, the rate still reached 61%; in 2006, the first-time employment rate has reached 70%. In such areas where the higher vocational education enjoys relatively better development as Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong, the employment rate of some schools have even exceeded 98%.
In 2006, the Ministry of Education started the advanced demonstration higher vocational college construction project. The objective of this project is to construct 100 higher vocational colleges with distinctive characteristics, highly recognized by society and representative of the development orientation of the higher vocational education, and make them become domestically first-class and internationally influential bases that provide well-trained talents for the regional economic and social development, in particular, make them serve as demonstration schools in terms of the talent fostering mode innovation, the integration of production, education and research, the education reform, the education resources sharing and the international exchange and cooperation, etc to lead and push the reform and development of the 1,176 higher vocational colleges nationwide.
1. Speeding up the practice and training infrastructure construction for the vocational education
According to the tendency of China’s industrialization and modernization and the foreseeable policy orientation of the vocational education, we envision the prospect of China’s vocational education as follows:
The national and local governments will concentrate the financial strength on building a considerable number of vocational education practice and training bases in order to guide the 15,000-strong higher and secondary vocational schools nationwide to conduct the employment-oriented education reform which integrating production, education and research, drive the construction of more than 200,000 specialties, and provide practice and training conditions for over 20 million students nationwide. It is anticipated that a large number of national and provincial vocational education practice and training bases which are shared by various regions and integrate education, training, occupational skill appraisal and technical services, etc will be in place by 2010.
The vocational education mode will shift to be oriented towards employment.
The educational goal will change from transmitting the theoretical knowledge to fostering the comprehensive vocational abilities.
The educational system will change from the one that “schools are the core and the full-time education is the main part” to the one that “schools shall cooperate with enterprises, practice elastic education system and integrate pre-service and post-service educations”.
In the aspect of the certificate granting, it will change from the single certificate system into the dual certificate system which pays equal attention to the education credentials and occupational qualifications.
As the regional industrialization process accelerates and the industrial technology upgrades, which result in the demand of higher-level talents, and the type, level and structure of the higher education adjusts and improves, the higher vocational education of China, as a type of education, will stay basically at the level of vocational training in the near term, pilot the regular college education in the eastern coastal areas in the mid-term, and develop all-level education in the long term, in order to meet the needs of technically-skilled and technical application-oriented talents in the economic and social development.
3. Education levels will be improved gradually.
The Decision of the State Council on Exerting Great Efforts to Development the Vocational Education issued in 2005 put forward that efforts shall be made actively to drive the system reform and innovation, and “drive the public vocational schools to integrate and restructure resources and take the path of scale development, group-oriented and chain education”.
The government encourages cooperation among condition-favored higher vocational colleges and between the said colleges and industries (enterprises) in actively pooling private and foreign funds to jointly found vocational education groups of various types and with unique characteristics.
The globalization of economic development contributes to the internationalization of the higher education. To strengthen the cooperation with foreign counterparts will become a tendency of the vocational education in the future. The strengthening of the international exchange and cooperation will add greatly to the international competitiveness in education. At present, the domestic vocational education, after the initial stage of learning foreign experience alone, begins to conduct multilateral exchange and cooperation. In the future, the exchange content and form will further diversify.
The center will actively introduce quality education resources and earnestly select collaborators and cooperation projects, modes and contents, in an attempt to integrate the general, distinctive and brand cooperation projects and guide China’s vocational colleges to expand foreign exchange and cooperation.
Finally, we wish the 2008 Sino-British Vocational and Technical Education Seminar (Chengdu) a Great Success!
Thank you very much!
March 12, 2008