Chinese universities ticked off for ideological education ‘gaps’

Inspectors tell Ministry of Education to ‘study deeply and systematically about Xi Jinping’s thoughts on education’

September 14, 2021
Beijing, China - October 19, 2014 - A souvenir stall at a Beijing night market selling Xi Jinping face plates and other kitsch
Source: iStock

Inspectors from China’s Communist Party have admonished the country’s leading universities for weaknesses in students’ ideological education.

The warning came after a two-month inspection of the Ministry of Education and 31 higher education institutions, including Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan universities, and Renmin University of China.

According to an official statement, “insufficient efforts” or “weak links” were found in all inspected organisations relating to “ideological work”. Leaders of these institutions were briefed about their problems in “one to one” sessions with inspectors.

Peking University was told that there were “insufficient efforts in ideological and political work”. Tsinghua was warned of "gaps in the ideological work” and lack of “risk prevention”. Even the Ministry of Education was urged to “study deeply and systematically about [Chinese president] Xi Jinping’s thoughts on education” and warned of a “blind spot” in its supervision of universities.

“There is a general tightening of control over thinking in recent years,” Steve Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute, told Times Higher Education. “Education is a key means for thought control and for ideological indoctrination.”

The Communist Party inspections started in mid-May and saw inspectors visit campuses and call for reports of any “violation of disciplines”.

The inspectors’ feedback also raised concerns about failures in leadership, corruption problems in research and excessive bureaucracy.

Mr Xi has handed universities a key role in indoctrinating the country’s youth with party ideology in recent years and has clamped down on freedom of thought. Dozens of “Xi thought” research institutes have been established, while party-appointed secretaries have played increasingly significant roles on campuses. A number of universities have set up teachers’ affairs departments under their party committees to improve lecturers’ ideological activities.

“Why would we not expect Xi to require schools and the education establishment generally to toe the line he has laid down since 2017?” Professor Tsang said.

karen.liu@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Chinese party finds campuses weak in ideology

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