The Analysis on the Development of Mainland China University Social Evaluation


YU Xiao-bo ZHENG En YANG Zhao-jun


(Hunan University Research Institute of Educational Science E-mail: 该Email地址已收到反垃圾邮件插件保护。要显示它您需要在浏览器中启用JavaScript。)


Abstract:University social evaluation means a kind of value judgment activity that except for government and universities, some social forces, for instance social evaluation intermediary organizations, the news media, employers and individuals etc., advocate to what degree universities meet the demands of society and the educated. The development of mainland China university social evaluation can be mainly separated into three stages: the first one is the beginning stage (1985-1992); the second is the exploration stage (1993-1998); the third one is the development stage (1999-present). Studying the process of mainland China university social evaluation and summarizing the main characteristics of different periods possess great significance to the development of mainland China university social evaluation activities and the improvement of the system of higher education evaluation.
Key Words: Mainland China; University; Social Evaluation; Development


  University social evaluation means a kind of value judgment activity that except for government and universities, some social forces, for instance social evaluation intermediary organizations, the news media, employers and individuals etc, advocate to what degree universities meet the demands of society and the educated. With the increasingly growing of mainland China’s social organizations and the degree to which social forces involve in higher education affairs further improved, the university social evaluation has been gradually developed in mainland China. Studying the process of mainland China university social evaluation and summarizing the main characteristics of different periods possess great significance to the development of mainland China university social evaluation activities and the improvement of the system of higher education evaluation.


1.The Beginning Stage of University Social Evaluation (1985-1992)
  In 1985, the Party Central Committee and the State Council “A Decision about Education System Reform” pointed out, “educational departments should organize the circle of education and intellectual and employers regularly to review the performance of higher education.” It was the first time that the mainland China encouraged social forces to assess university, which provided policy support for the development of university social evaluation.Meanwhile, some university evaluation approaches of developed countries were gradually introduced into mainland China. Especially the universities rankings of the US News & World Reports and the UK Times were the most influential evaluation. Under the dual influence of the domestic education system reform and foreign university social evaluation, the mainland China university social evaluation came into existence at the historic moment.
  In September 1987, the Chinese Institute of Management Science Scientific Research Institute ranked 87 key universities of our country by using the data of "Science Citation Index" (SCI) as index. This ranking with only index was strictly the first university social evaluation in the mainland China. It broke the government monopoly situation of university evaluation, marking the beginning of university social evaluation there.In January 1998, the institution increased the "Engineering Index" (EI) data sources, and ranked respectively top 20 key comprehensive universities and top 20 key engineering universities by the number of science and technology papers in EI and SCI from 1983 to 1985. In November 1989, the institution ranked a diverse scientific measurement index for 86 key universities by using “The Compilation of Higher Education Science and Technology Statistics" from 1985 to 1987 edited by the original Science and Technology Division of the State Education Commission as data sources.
  In 1989, Group for Statistics and Analysis of Chinese Research Paper of China Institute of Science and Technology Information reviewed parts of Chinese universities and research institutions. What made difference from university rankings before is that they first used citations of papers as one of the evaluation indexes, which included papers published in SCI, EI, ISTP, national and international citations of papers, and the number of papers published domestically. After 1991, the China institute of Science and Technology Information issued the mentioned data in the first issue of "Chinese Journal of Science and Technology Research” every year.
  In 1992, Zhang Ying etc. of Hunan university, assessed the science and technology activities of the national 86 key universities in 1985-1989. They published a paper entitled "The Assessment of Science and Technology Activities of the national 86 Key Universities in 1985-1989", according to the data of “The Compilation of Higher Education Science and Technology Statistics" from 1985 to 1989 edited by the original Science and Technology Division of the State Education Commission in the fourth issue of "Science and Science & Technology Management". The article ranked these universities by detailed quantitative approach, this was also the first university ranking taking different weights for different results in mainland China.
  The characteristics of this stage of university social evaluation:

  First, the development of evaluation body was limited, the function was not into full play. The appearance of social assessment broke the original government monopoly situation, but since the university social assessment just started, together with the influence of the whole social environment, the higher education system and the related policy, laws and regulations, and people's thought, the unofficial social evaluation body was only in a sporadic stage, it was not large-scale, thus the function was limited. "The circle of education and intellectual and employers were just social forces which when the state and their management departments reviewed the level of higher education relied on. They belonged to subordinate status, social organization was a supplement."1      
  Second, evaluation objects were mainly key universities, the content of assessment was "heavy science light liberal art". During this stage the evaluation objects mostly were the domestic key universities, not including non-key ones. The contents of assessment ware mainly the science and technology achievements, "heavy science light liberal art". This can be seen from the data sources used for evaluation, for instance the Chinese Institute of Management Science Scientific Research Institute used the data of SCI, EI and the number of science and technology papers in “The Compilation of Higher Education Science and Technology Statistics" from 1985 to 1989 edited by the original Science and Technology Division of the State Education Commission for ranking universities.
   Third, the evaluation results released to the public but the pattern was single. In the past, under the influence of traditional concepts, the government did not disclose the university evaluation information to the public, and society had no right to know the government's evaluation process. University social evaluation broke the close and old patterns of evaluation, from the selection of index, collection of materials and data, to the produce of evaluation results , the whole process was public. Nevertheless, the way the results released was single, which was mainly published in the newspapers, periodicals, magazines and other print media, such as "Science and Technology Daily", "Guangming Daily",etc.  


2.The Exploration Stage of University Social Evaluation(1993-1998)
  In early 1992, Deng Xiaoping made his South Tour, putting the reform and open up and socialist modernization in mainland Chinaforward into a new stage of development. In order to realizestrategic tasks of the 14th congress of the communist party of China, guide the 1990s even the early 21st century education reform and development,make education with better servicefor socialistic modernization, in February 1993, the Party Central Committee and the State Council issued "The Chinese Education Reformand Development Outline", pointed outclearly:"it is needed to establishthe consultation, review, and evaluation,etc. institutions with experts of education and all sectors of community participating in and give advice for higher education policies and development strategy and planning,forming democratic and scientificdecision-making procedures". "For vocational and technical education and higher education, it is necessary to combine the leads, experts withemployers, through various forms to make quality evaluation and examination."
  In June 1993, university evaluation research group of Guangdong Management Science Research Institute Wu Shulian etc., evaluated 614 national undergraduate universities. Evaluation results entitled "the China University Evaluation--1991 Research and Development" published in "Guangdong Science and Technology Weekly". The ranking referred to 25 indexes, of which weight determined by the national 203 experts. It was the first use of weight given by a comparative large-scale expert group as the weight coefficient of the evaluation index domestically. It was also the first China university evaluation including philosophy, humanities and social science activities, before which China university evaluation only involved the area of science and technology.
  In July 1994, Research Assessments Institute of the National Degree and Postgraduate Education Development was established (which was renamed to "Degree and Postgraduate Education Development Center of Ministry of Education" in 2003). It was directly subject to the Ministry of Education, belonging to an independent legal entity, and was mainly engaged in the evaluation of degree and graduate education. In October 1995, the Assessment Institute of Degree and Graduate Education was entrusted by the State Education Commission to review national 33 universities's graduate schools. The evaluation included three first class indexes: postgraduate culturing and quality, discipline construction and achievements and postgraduate institutional construction.It made a positive exploration for solving the comparability of different types of universities and was the first university graduate school integrated rankings.
  In February 1996, the first issue of the magazine "Chinese Higher Education Evaluation" published an article entitled "Chinese Institutions of Higher Education Rankings", which was based on indexes, such as the running conditions of universities, discipline construction and achievements, students quality,etc. listing the Chinese top 30 universities. Unfortunately, the rankings along with its title had only 499 words and did not announce any index weight and evaluation approach. It was the shortest domestic university rankings, and was also the first domestic comprehensive university rankings until now.
  In December 1997, the "China Science Daily" published the article "1996 part of statistical results of the Chinese Science Citation Data base(CSCD)", written by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Documents Intelligence Center. This paper released " the top 20 universities with most papers rankings" and "the top 10 universities with most fund project papers rankings" recorded by CSCD. Since then, the center announced the university with largest number of published papers annually.
  In 1997, Zhao Yu, Wang Zhanjun,etc. in the sixth issue of the journal "Higher Education Research", published the article entitled " The Superior Selection Assessment and Analysis of the First Class Discipline", which introduced the superior selection assessment condition of mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, electrics, computer science and technology, five first class discipline accredited institutions offering Doctoral degree programs, and finally came to the evaluation results. Meanwhile, it also listed the rankings of the evaluated universities and scientific research institutions.
  In April 1998, Central South University of Technology researcher Cai Yanhou in the second issue of "Hunan Graduate Education" published a paper entitled "The Comparison of Comprehensive Strength of Chinese University High-level Personnel Training ". According to the condition of the doctor station, mobile post-doctoral stations, the state key discipline (including the state key laboratory, and national engineering (technology) research center, national arts base) of the universities in our country, he used the proportion method to rank top 100 of comprehensive strength of Chinese university high-level personnel training.
  The characteristics of this stage of university social evaluation:

  First, the independence of evaluation intermediary institutions was not strong. Compared with western countries, although most of theses institutions had independent legal person status, meanwhile they directly subordinated to the government education administrative departments. Such as the Institute of Degree Assessment was "subordinated to" Degree Committee of the State Council, the Higher Education Assessment Institute of Shanghai was "affiliated" to Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, etc. And, "the affiliation relation also reflected in the specific operation of evaluation: the leaders of the government higher education administrative departments acted as the principals of the institutions. The government was in charge of the funds, provided the main assessment projects, and approved the evaluation results."2
  Second, the social science was introduced into the evaluation and began to try to do comprehensive evaluation. In the previous stage, university social assessment were all about the rankings of the achievements in science and technology of universities, the data sources were all from domestic and international various compilations of science and technology statistics. Since 1993, Guangdong Management Science Research Institute Wu Shulian etc. first introduced "1991 the Compilation of National Institutions of Higher Education Social Science Statistics" edited by the Social Science Division of the State Education Commission. They first reported China university rankings, including philosophy, humanities and social science activities,etc. This marked that the social science was began to introduced into the university social evaluation as one of the contents of evaluation. Not only that, comprehensive evaluation of university appeared during this phase. For example, in 1996, the first issue of the "Chinese Higher Education Evaluation" published the article entitled "Chinese Institutions of Higher Education Rankings". Although it was not perfect, however, it was the first integrated rankings of university in mainland China, possessing an initiate meaning.  
  Third, the evaluation transferred from all based on objective data to added subjective value to evaluation.Before this, "university evaluation was basically all based on public objective data"3, all the reference data were not made any processing, and directly recorded according to the truth. In 1997, Wu Shulian research group based on the hypothesis "researchers of different types of university have the same innovation ability on average, constructed "the concept of classification difficulty coefficient", thus calculated out difficulty coefficient of different types of university natural science and social science. In 1998, Central South University of Technology researcher Cai Yanhou used the proportion method to rank top 100 of comprehensive strength of Chinese university high-level personnel training. Practices have proved, on the basis of a special research joined "subjective value judgment", which was really more scientific than pure objective data.


3. The Development Stage of University Social Evaluation   (1999-Present)
  Ever since 1999, with extraordinary development of the scale of the Chinese mainland higher education, higher education quality problem has increasingly become the focus of society. How to guarantee the quality of higher education has become joint liability of the government, society and institutions of higher education. This stage, the role of social forces are paid more and more attention. University social assessment steps into a vigorous development stage. On the one hand, the university social evaluation intermediary agencies further develop, there are many provinces in succession founding the provincial professional education evaluation intermediary organizations, for example, Liaoning Education Research Institute Evaluation Center (1999), Guangdong province Education Development Research and Evaluation Center (2000), Chongqing Education Evaluation Institute (2009), etc. On the other hand, a few influential folk university comprehensive rankings in mainland China are all formed at this time.
  In 1999, China Net Big Company first from the consumer's perspective, published a "1999 China Institutions of Higher Education Rankings" in its website, the China Youth Daily and the Southern Metropolis Daily.In addition, as one of the features of Net Big, "University BBS" gradually became a popular public opinion platform about the university on the Internet. It let all the universities can timely show the latest development of them by daily updates, and built a communication bridge between the university and the alumni, the candidates, and parents, and made more social public can get a better understand of university and university evaluation.
  In October 2002, the China Alumni Association first launched "2003 Chinese Institutions of Higher Education Rankings" network poll activity, this activity was completely done on the Internet, not only the data of rankings was provided by e-pals, but the rankings indexes and weight were also voted through the network. It was the first university rankings appraised and elected by the network in mainland China. Since then, the Alumni Association launches domestic university evaluation with new contents each year. For example, in 2010, the association first launched the evaluation standards and results of the "2010 China University Star Rankings"; In 2011, the association will bring "alumni donations" into the Chinese university evaluation for the first time, leading the Chinese universities to emulate world class universities.
  In 2004, Research Centre for China Science Evaluation (RCCSE) of Wuhan University released "the Comprehensive Competitive Power Evaluation of Chinese Institutions of Higher Education", the indexes included educational resources, teaching level and scientific research three main aspects. It added reputation index for key universities. Under the first grade index, there were the secondary, and tertiary indicators, as many as over 50 ones. The index system is the largest one in domestic at present.
  The characteristics of this stage of university social evaluation:

  First, the evaluation indexes constantly improve, comprehensive evaluation is paid more and more attention.In 1987, the Chinese Institute of Management Science Scientific Research Institute released "Chinese universities rankings by science metrology index", which only has "the number of SCI papers" one evaluation index.To meet the needs of the integration development of the university social evaluation, multi-index evaluation is attached more and more importance. Wu Shulian's rankings began in 1993, which was just scientific research rankings. In 2000, the list started introducing talents training evaluation, the index system also increased the content of undergraduates, college students and postgraduates training. The Net Big Company launched "1999 China Institutions of Higher Education Rankings", the index was very simple, which mainly referenced "U.S. News & World Reports". Since 2000, the company has made large adjustment to the index system. Now it has formed an evaluation system with nearly 20 items secondary indexes.4 As for the rankings of RCCSE of Wuhan University, its evaluation indexes is even up to 50 items.5
  Second, it begins to value the classification evaluation of university. This has been topic of discussion in academic circle, also gets more and more attention of evaluators, and is gradually introduced into their respective evaluations. For example, Wu Shulian research group maintains that the types of universities consist of two parts, the classifications reflect the characteristics of subjects, the shapes reflect the scale of scientific research. According to this, the existing universities and colleges can be divided into 13 classifications and 4 shapes, then according to different classifications and shapes rank universities. As another example, the RCCSE of Wuhan University bases on the principle of "similar comparison, classification evaluation", the index system and weights are designed and evaluated according to the differences of key, general and non-governmental universities and colleges.
  Third, the release ways of evaluation results gradually tend to be diversified. The early university evaluation results are basically published in printed media, such as the newspapers, periodicals and magazines,etc.In recent years, as the major product of the information age the network is beginning to be an important channel of the release of university social evaluation results. For instance, since 1999, China Net Big Company has began to do university evaluation, it has been insisting on announcing its evaluation results every year in its own web portal, so does the China Alumni Association. Other folk university social evaluations in addition to using traditional printing media, also use network to the release the results.


  In conclusion, although the history of the university social evaluation of mainland China is not that long, while it develops rapidly, and presents the phased characteristics. "National Mid and     Long-term Education Reform and Development Plan Outline (2010-2020) " stressed: "it is needed to develop evaluation activities of education quality with government, universities, parents and all other social forces participating in." "It is needed to encourage specialized agencies and social intermediary institutions to evaluate the level and quality of disciplines, majors, curriculum of institutions of higher education and establish scientific and standard evaluation system." At present, the mainland China's university social evaluation is still in the process of development, there are still many flaws, however as the development direction of university evaluation, it will certainly play a more and more important role in the higher education quality assurance.


  (This article is the phased achievement of national philosophy social science fund (education) general project: "Social Adjustment Mechanism Research of Higher Education Quality Assurance", subject approval number: BIA090052)

 

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