China has always been on the forefront of several growth related industries, thanks to its voracious appetite for energy, raw materials and other commodities. Recently, the country has started hunting around for one more commodity; brain power! With the number of opportunities dwindling at home, western academics have started to head out to the nation to find solace, with the latter welcoming them with open arms!
Elite Chinese Universities like Fudan, Tsinghua and Peking are attracting more and more western academics who find it difficult to secure teaching opportunities and research funding in the universities back home. The Chinese universities on the other hand, offer good positions that come with good pays, tax exemptions and even housing allowances. These perks make it easier for western academics to work to their heart’s content, and save money in the process; more money than they could actually save in the US.
The load experienced by Western academics in China is also less when compared to countries in Europe and North America where extra hours and low pays are synonymous with job descriptions. The universities in China offer flexible teaching options which enable the students to share their time efficiently between teaching and research, while leaving chores related administration to the concerned people; not an option if you are a junior academic in the US.
China’s booming educational sector is also one of the reasons why western academics find the country’s universities appealing. At present, the country has spent a total of $360 billion on the educational, research and developmental sectors; much more than any country in the West in fact. Government funding for private and public projects has also gone up by nearly 20 percent in order to place emphasis on a ‘services and skills-based economy’.
Added to all this is the opportunity to work in one of the most populous nations in the world. The country’s booming growth in all sectors has opened up the field for many job opportunities. The recruiting activity has also grown largely, with several positions being advertised in international newspapers on a daily basis.
However, the journey over to the other side is not always smooth, or so as some western academics who work in China say. Many recruits would apparently have to deal with few issues while teaching here. For instance, Chinese students are more inclined towards the rote learning method, which limits their understanding capabilities, and reduces their independent and creative thinking ability. Rather than working on a topic with their own set of guidelines, they would need to be given proper instructions. This in turn would leave even the brightest student lacking in one aspect that is considered extremely important; creative thinking.
Most Chinese universities also lack a basic understanding of research standards pertaining to international levels as well, with many western academics facing issues like language barriers, collegiality between professors, meritocracy and academic freedom in most of these universities.
An aspiring researcher would definitely need a good amount of travel and student assistance during his/her research. However, in a country like China, grants for the same usually come with several restrictions related to hiring assistants and international travel.
The political powers play an important role these grants too. The government, with many reports of falsified data, censorship, academic corruption and misconduct already doing the rounds, controls most of the grants related to academic resources and funds as well. More often than not, many western academics find themselves being pulled up for questioning concerning the nature of their research.