Yaxue Cao | Chinachange.org
Excerpts from the article New York University Shanghai: What is the Deal? For the full article:http://chinachange.org/2015/02/05/new-york-university-shanghai-what-is-the-deal/
“NYU Shanghai is a joint venture between East China Normal University (ECNU) and New York University, “the first Sino-US joint venture university” according to NYU Shanghai’s website, whose first undergraduate class was inaugurated in the fall of 2013.”
“As a joint business, China has 51% share in NYU Shanghai and is the controlling party, and NYU has 49% share. Correspondingly, 51 percent of each entering class must be Chinese nationals, while the remaining 49 percent come from around the world, but mostly from the U. S.”
“This arrangement of ownership is similar to the model with which China has attracted foreign companies over the last three decades, gaining intellectual properties and learning know-how from its western partners. Now it looks like China is trying to reproduce this model in higher education.”
“NYU Shanghai is not a branch of NYU”
“New York University Shanghai launches inaugural class; Not a reproduction of the American education model is the title of a Xinhua News Agency’s report on NYU Shanghai in September, 2013. Indeed, it is not. How much a role NYU plays to design and shape the curriculum at NYU Shanghai remains a question, but of one thing I am quite certain: NYU Shanghai’s curriculum will have to be approved, if not guided, by the Chinese government.
“The Guangzhou-based South Metropolis Weekly (《南都周刊》) noted the difference between Chinese students and foreign students. Chinese students are required not only to take Gaokao, China’s national college entrance exams, but also fulfill the required military training, implemented after the Tiananmen Movement in 1989 to “rectify” incoming college students and install discipline in them. Chinese students at NYU Shanghai receive military training alongside undergraduate students at ECNU, the paper says.”
“What about the four “thought and political education” courses (思想政治教育) required of all college students in China? They are “Maoism and Theories of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” “Thoughts and Morality,” “Marxist Philosophy” (otherwise known as Marxist Materialist Dialectics), and “Modern Chinese History” (when I was in college in the 1980s, it was the History of Chinese Communist Party). Are Chinese students at NYU Shanghai required to take them? During a recent congressional hearing that probed whether China’s influence is infringing on academic freedom in American universities, Congressman Chris Smith asked the same question and did not know the answer.”
“If I have to take a guess, it would be “Yes” because, as Mr. Yu pointed out, as Chinese students at NYU Shanghai receive two separate degrees from NYU and ECNU, they must meet what is required of all Chinese college students. Furthermore, if they are not spared military training, why would they be spared the ideology courses? Just like the case with the military training, my guess is that they take these courses alongside ECNU students. However, whether on the NYU Shanghai website or in Chinese media, I have not found any mention of these courses. It seems to me that this simple yes or no question has been carefully tucked away.”
“Chancellor Yu Lizhong told Nanfang TV that, at NYU Shanghai, there are communist party members among faculty and students, and they participate in CCP activities at ECNU. Is there a CCP branch at NYU Shanghai? We don’t know. But according to the CCP bylaws, only three party members are needed to form a party branch.
“In September, 2013, the five elected officers of NYU-American Association of University Professors wrote a letter to NYU Board of Trustees to “record some grave concerns expressed by our members about the prospects for academic freedom in China and at the new campus.” Well-informed about ideological crusade and academic restrictions in China, which have gotten steadily and significant worse since 2013, the professors acknowledge that “it is difficult for us to imagine the campus can subsist as a bubble on an information landscape that is so severely constrained.”
“The letter, which was entered into the Congressional record during the December 2014 hearing, pointed out that “the Shanghai initiative was conceived and shaped with minimal faculty consultation and with few faculty concerns about freedoms permitted to enter the discussions. Even now, we have not been given any formal evidence of the kind of agreement signed between our NYU Administration and the Chinese authorities (national, municipal or district).”
“The professors worried about NYU’s name being sullied. “Accepting vast sums of money from foreign governments puts NYU and every scholar affiliated with the University in a morally compromising situation, and academic freedom is usually the first casualty.” [I can’t seem to find a link to the letter; I’m quoting from a hard copy I picked up at the hearing.]
“During the Congressional hearing “Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China’s Influence on American Universities?”, Rep. Chris Smith expressed similar concerns about the moral cost of this transaction. He said “we have repeatedly invited NYU’s President and faculty to testify before this committee [the House Foreign Affairs Committee], without success. On five separate occasions, we gave NYU 15 dates to appear.”
“Smith said “American colleges and universities should not be outsourcing academic control, faculty and student oversight, or curriculum to a foreign government.” He said he will be asking for a GAO study to review the agreements of both satellite campuses in China and of Confucius Institutes in the U. S.” “I will also ask the GAO to study whether U. S. satellite campuses in China operate differently from Chinese universities and whether there is a two-tier system in place, where Chinese students and faculty have more restrictions placed on their activities and research than U. S students and faculty. I will also ask whether Communist Party committees operate on campus, whether fundamental freedoms are protected for both Chinese and U. S. students and faculty.”
China’s Ten-Year Plan
“China’s Outline of the National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020) (《国家中长期教育改革和发展规划纲要 2010-2020年》), issued in July, 2010, devotes a chapter to “Expanding Education Openness”
“Three years into the issuance of this ten-year Outline, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a briefing on the implementation of joint-venture higher education programs in 2013, making three mentions of NYU Shanghai.
“Ideological indoctrination in schools like NYU Shanghai apparently is a big concern of the Chinese government, and the briefing makes a special evaluation of it. “Joint-venture institutions and programs have focused on cultivating a scientific world view and positive outlook and values,” says the Briefing. “They have engaged in thought and moral education as well as patriotic education based on the characteristics of students in these schools and programs, and have achieved remarkable results. Sino-foreign joint-venture universities, such as the University of Nottingham Ningbo, have insisted on establishing Communist Party committees so that there would be Party’s work wherever the mass is and there would be Party organization wherever there are party members, achieving the party’s no-blind-spot coverage on the grassroots level. Some universities have also established overseas party branches to ensure that the party’s work keeps synchronized steps with its work at home when students of these joint-venture institutions and programs study abroad.”
Reposted with permission from ChinaChange.org