Teaching versus research

Updated: 2014-12-29 08:11

(China Daily)

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Education authorities have to reform their promotional, payment and research funding systems to help college teachers strike the right balance between teaching and research, says an article in Xi'an Daily. Excerpts:

In an online posting, a university teacher from Sichuan province has said that many college teachers do not attach importance to teaching students, and colleges are becoming more and more like government departments with the teachers busy applying for research funds..

What the Sichuan teacher has said is not an isolated case. On one hand, education authorities have stipulated that college teachers aspiring for a professor's post have to have published works like papers or books on their subjects and the experience of having participated in provincial - or national-level government research.

On the other hand, the salary of college teachers - at about $1,000 a month in most cities - is less than the average income of an office clerk. That's why the lure of government research funds, which can run into hundreds of thousands of yuan for some key programs, is too attractive for college teachers to ignore.

Moreover, the evaluation, supervision and administration of government-funded research works are loose. The most important thing for college teachers is to get selected for a research program irrespective of the process and result of the work. The irony, if one can call it one, is that almost all successful applicants have finished their research to the satisfaction of the higher authorities.

It is not that the teachers do not want to teach students. The problem is with the irrational system that distorts the normal relationship between teaching and research work in universities. There is no conflict between teaching and research. The onus is on the government to end the system that has created a gap between the two.