It’s wrong for rich coastal col­leges to ‘ buy’ pro­fes­sors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - THE COM­PE­TI­TION

among do­mes­tic col­leges for fa­mous pro­fes­sors is get­ting fiercer. Re­ports show that some uni­ver­si­ties in western China have lost so many ex­cel­lent pro­fes­sors to bet­ter pay­ing uni­ver­si­ties in the wealth­ier coastal re­gions that they have stopped pro­vid­ing cer­tain ma­jors. Thep­a­ com­ments:

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, ear­lier this year a col­lege in South China’s Guang­dong prov­ince of­fered an an­nual salary of 1.2 mil­lion yuan ($172,513) plus a fixed re­search fund of 20 mil­lion yuan to lure a tal­ented pro­fes­sor from a univer­sity in a less de­vel­oped re­gion. That pay­ment is ex­tremely high com­pared with the av­er­age salary of 53,615 yuan.

It is wrong for the wealth­ier uni­ver­si­ties in the well-de­vel­oped coastal re­gion to lure the most tal­ented pro­fes­sors from the less wealthy uni­ver­si­ties in the western re­gion with un­rea­son­ably high salaries.

If the rich col­leges be­lieve they can im­prove their re­search and ed­u­ca­tion in this way, they are mis­guided. Sci­en­tific re­search re­quires team­work; ex­cel­lent pro­fes­sors need ex­cel­lent as­sis­tants and ex­cel­lent stu­dents to pro­duce ex­cel­lent re­sults.

There­fore, if a col­lege hopes to im­prove its re­search and ed­u­ca­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties, it must in­vest time and en­ergy in stu­dents, post­grad­u­ates, young fac­ulty, and se­nior pro­fes­sors. Em­ploy­ing a fa­mous pro­fes­sor is not enough on its own.

The trend for rich uni­ver­si­ties to “buy” fa­mous pro­fes­sors also shows that some of the deans are rather short-sighted. They do not care much about the true qual­ity of their ed­u­ca­tion and re­search in the long run; in­stead, they want to pol­ish their an­nual per­for­mance eval­u­a­tions most in or­der to get pro­moted, and hir­ing a fa­mous pro­fes­sor is a con­ve­nient way to achieve that.

Ac­tu­ally, some rich col­leges not only “buy” fa­mous pro­fes­sors, but also “in­vest” in other re­search pro­grams that can get re­turns within a short term. That has much to do with the sys­tem for eval­u­at­ing col­leges, which places too much em­pha­sis on short-term pro­grams. It is time to find a bet­ter way to eval­u­ate the per­for­mance of col­leges.

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