Move col­leges out of cap­i­tal

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

That Bei­jing, Tian­jin and He­bei prov­ince are work­ing on a joint de­vel­op­ment plan to ease the pop­u­la­tion pres­sure on the cap­i­tal and boost the over­all de­vel­op­ment of the sur­round­ing ar­eas, has grabbed much pub­lic at­ten­tion lately.

But what kind of en­ter­prises and in­sti­tutes in the cap­i­tal should be re­lo­cated to these two ar­eas has be­come a cen­tral con­cern of the plan, said a com­men­tary in Global Times Chi­nese Edi­tion on Thurs­day.

The plan may re­mind us of the past prac­tice of de­vel­op­ing satel­lite towns around a mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Given the rel­a­tively low property prices, satel­lite towns around Bei­jing ba­si­cally func­tion as dor­mi­tory com­mu­ni­ties as they pro­vide no job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

People pre­fer me­gac­i­ties such as Bei­jing be­cause they of­fer more em­ploy­ment op­tions and easy ac­cess to var­i­ous pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices. In fact, smal­land medium-sized towns in some highly ur­ban­ized economies can also pro­vide such con­ve­nience. These places have some­thing in com­mon as they are ususally col­lege towns with a large stu­dent pop­u­la­tion that per­vades the lo­cal econ­omy and so­cial life.

Col­lege towns can have an ad­van­tage in re­tain­ing talent, as a new in­dus­try is likely to come into be­ing if they can at­tract those who start up a busi­ness af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

There are up to 100 in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing and many more re­search in­sti­tutes in Bei­jing, and many are ac­tu­ally lo­cated in the same district. The re­lo­ca­tion of them would be con­ducive to their own ex­pan­sion and would also en­hance the com­pet­i­tive­ness of their new bases such as the many coun­ties and town­ships in neigh­bor­ing He­bei prov­ince.

It is not just Bei­jing. There are some 2,000 in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing in China, and most of them are in the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and provin­cial cap­i­tals. There are also about 2,000 county-level di­vi­sions na­tion­wide, but only a few are home to a col­lege or univer­sity. One ex­am­ple is the Yan­gling town­ship in the city of Xianyang, Shaanxi prov­ince, where a univer­sity of agri­cul­ture and forestry is lo­cated and so are sev­eral other in­sti­tutes of agri­cul­tural sci­ence. They form part of a State-level agri­cul­tural sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy park. Thanks to that, Yan­gling has emerged as a hub of agri­cul­tural sci­ence in North­west China that in­te­grates ed­u­ca­tion and re­search with in­dus­trial needs. This would not have hap­pened if the univer­sity in ques­tion was first based in the provin­cial cap­i­tal.

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