Chinese universities incline toward teaching professorship; scholars express concern

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Chinese universities incline toward teaching professorship; scholars express concern

China Pharmaceutical University recently announced its first appointment basis past teaching experience of academics. Lately, many Chinese institutions have made space for such roles. Universities are shifting the parameters for onboarding professors, and adopting a teaching-focused path for a professorship.

Essentially, this means academics who have 10+ years of teaching experience as deputy or associate professors, can now apply for professorship roles to universities without worrying about their number of publications, which has been the primary and the sole criteria for assessing academic staff till now. 

Moreover, these academics will get equal opportunities to conduct research or teach at the provincial and state levels. All the selected candidates will receive an additional annual allowance. They may be promoted officially after an extensive review and three years of experience.

University officials are still contemplating the decision and doubt how widely this practice should be adopted.

This move is being perceived as a continuation of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology in early 2020 that discouraged the use of publication metrics by institutions for rewarding individuals and departments. They stated that “a lack of SCI papers should not be a barrier to granting degrees or qualifications”1

However, some scholars favor that research and publication metrics remain the sole criteria for career progression.

“There is a growing trend that many universities have launched pilot projects of teaching professors, and many teachers applied to and obtained this type of role,”2 Tang Jingtai, a professor in the School of Journalism at Fudan University, told Times Higher Education. “But I would say both its influence in academia and the recognition that these professors received have been limited.”3

These scholars agree that there’s a need for teaching professorships in subjects that demand more practical application and less theoretical discussion, and that this will be an excellent chance for progress for academics with lesser opportunities for conducting research. However, they believe that teaching and research are complementary to each other. “Only first-class research can lead to first-class teaching, which again, will promote research to go deeper,”4 said Professor Jingtai.

Furthering this discussion, Liu Qingsheng, a professor in the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, said, “We should not simply blame academic papers for the impetuousness and eagerness for instant success in academia.”5 He added that carrying out studies and sharing results go hand in hand with the basic values of academic staff, including teaching, scientific research and social service. In his opinion, adopting this approach “could [send] a misleading message that academics do not need to do research in their areas”6.

Will the shifting approach prove valuable for academia? What are your views? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.






1. Joyce Lau, Jing Liu. Chinese government bulldozes ‘publish or perish’ mentality.

2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Jing Liu: Chinese universities embrace teaching professorships, with doubts.


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Published on: Jan 31, 2022


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