Those fortunate enough to hear Professor Liu Haiping speak on ‘Universities in a Changing China’ in Melbourne last month were given much food for thought. As Dean of the School of Foreign Studies at Nanjing University he has been at the centre of a period of rapid change in Chinese higher education.
His audience was rather taken aback by some uncanny similarities between their system and ours. Certainly, the language of reform was based upon some familiar rhetoric about competitiveness and the need to find more and ever larger sources of external funding. Nanjing saw an opportunity to raise funds by pulling down the walls surrounding the University and turning buildings into offices for rent. It runs some restaurants and, what one assumes is a separate enterprise, a factory which turns urine into medicines used to combat heart disease. There are no doubt some opportunities here for our staff clubs.