China has developed a well-established, multi-disciplined and quality-assured system of higher education, mainland representatives told an academic gathering.
A seminar to share developments in quality assurance systems in China, Britain and the United States was organised by the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation.
Mr Wang Yajie, the assistant director of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council, told the seminar that the Chinese academic degree system, which started in 1981, had contributed to the evolution of a quality assurance system in postgraduate education.
'Our main aims are to improve overall quality, increase the number of postgraduates, and concentrate on key development of disciplines,' Mr Wang said.
The academic degree committee has approved the establishment of academic degrees in 16 provinces and municipalities.
Meanwhile, there are 88 first-level disciplines and 381 second-level disciplines in various fields of study, including agriculture, clinical medicine, military studies and management.
There are also 2,604 doctoral degrees and 9,799 master's degrees in the country, and these classifications will further broaden as postgraduate education develops.
'We need to plan the scope and the pace of the development of postgraduate education,' said Mr Wang.
The nation's academic structure also needs to be refined and modified by adjusting curriculums and the distribution of degree-conferring centres.
In 1995, the Government adopted the 211 Project - a plan to improve about 100 key higher education institutions by the 21st century.
The project consists of three parts: the improvement of the general condition of the institutions, the refining of key subject disciplines, and the development of higher education public service systems.
The quality of post-graduate education should also be improved through the upgrading of staff.
'Better teachers create better students,' said Professor Xu Demin, the vice-president of the Northwestern Polytechnical University.
'The qualifications of the staff of an institution reflect to a certain extent the level of its standards.' The building of a staff team with high academic standards and sound structure would lay the foundation of a successful quality assurance system, Professor Xu also said.
The Northwest Polytechnical University hopes to see 75 per cent of its lecturers obtaining master's degrees and 25 per cent obtaining doctoral degrees by the year 2000.
Alice is a Young Post summer intern from Baptist University