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What China Can Teach Us About Evaluating Universities

from AAUP listserv

I have no qualms with getting public universities to focus on graduation rates of students and employment rates of graduates, though I would agree with many colleagues that such a focus slants towards a narrow perspective of public universities’ missions.

One real difficulty (and perhaps danger) of such fixations lies in coming up with credible employment rates. To illustrate, in 2009 in the midst of the global financial crisis, China pushed universities to increase employment of its 2009 college graduating class and used placement rate as an evaluation criterion. As expected, placement rate became a high priority to universities and, too, a target of intensive gaming: many graduating students had been reported as “hired” on university statistics long before they actually found jobs (and often without their knowledge).  A new hip “passive” phrase in Chinese was also coined to describe this phenomenon:  bei jiuye — someone “has been found employment” or “has been ‘employmented’.”

I wrote before a mild critique of such a narrow statistical approach. If interested, it is at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2013808513_guest03chan.html.
Kam Wing Chan
Department of Geography


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