xperts are concerned that universities in China’s less developed regions are on the verge of a brain drain as an increasing number of academics are being attracted to institutions in the country’s richer parts that promise better rewards.
Li Yuanyuan, president of northeast China’s Jilin University, said the situation is likely to cause a “Matthew effect” with the strong universities growing ever stronger while the weak ever weaker. It could also paralyze areas of research, Li said. Job-hopping academics, who leave with their existing research results, won’t be necessarily given as many resources and attention by their new institution to carry on their studies, Li said.
The imbalance in the flow of academics ultimately stems from the government’s problematic funding structure, said critic Li Xiaopeng, writing in the Hangzhou-based Qianjiang Evening News. He quoted media reports as showing that universities along the richer east coast are receiving notably more money from the government.
The government should carry out policies to direct academic personnel to flow toward the less developed western and northeastern regions, Li Yuanyuan said. For example, he said, academics in these areas who undertake national-level research projects should be given an additional 20 to 50 percent in funds.
Universities in less developed areas should also reflect on the areas where they haven’t done enough to keep the academics, Li Xiaopeng said. For example, he said, universities should consider whether teachers have been unfairly treated in terms of promotions, pay rises and job title evaluation.
Meanwhile, Chinese universities are all looking to expand regardless of regional specifics, Li Xiaopeng said. Instead of developing area-specific subjects, many universities in less developed regions have overlooked their real strengths and focused on research subjects that could also be well developed elsewhere, he said.
The only way for these universities to attract academics is to stay focused on unique regional resources, he said. The so-called personnel problem, he concluded, is fundamentally caused by the universities’ strategic mistakes.