Academies shift focus to younger scholars
China’s top science and engineering bodies aim to select younger academicians and cut administrative interference among scholars in 2015.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering began to select new academicians on Jan 1, the first elections since the academician regulation reforms.
The two academies released detailed amended regulations on academician selection and management in December, lowering the age of candidacy and forbidding the nomination of civil workers with administrative titles higher than director level.
In addition, governments, universities and enterprises are ineligible to recommend academicians. Nominations can only be proposed by current academicians and academic federations.
“The new regulations encourage scholars to focus on research instead of administrative work,” said Zhang Boli, academician with the CAE and an expert on medical research.
The title of academician is the highest lifetime tenure honor for Chinese science and engineering scholars. It attracts the interest of administrators, including high-ranking government officials.
Recent years have seen the title bring lucrative profits to members, including receiving financial benefits from giving lectures and talks under the title of being an academician. Previous reports said that some academicians charged more than 10,000 yuan
Chinese ($1,660) for just one lecture.
Gu Haibing, a professor of economics at Renmin University of China, found in a study that academicians’ powers over allocating research funds and evaluating research results could be abused.
The amendment regulations also ban government officials from buying the title.
Media reports in 2013 said that Zhang Shuguang, a former railway official, confessed at a bribery trial that he attempted to buy votes in the election for a CAS academician title.