Southwestern China Education Market Brief by taoyni



The Chinese education market is highly fragmented in large due to the size of the country and
the diversity of its population. It should be viewed as several regional markets with differing
characteristics, constraints and opportunities.

Southwestern China geographically covers the three provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou as
well as the municipality of Chongqing along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River,
to which Canada’s Consulate in Chongqing is accredited. These four interior subdivisions have a
combined population of 300 million. Official statistics show that there is currently more than
49,000 schools, 8,285,300 students, and a teaching staff population totaling 310,000 in

Efforts are underway by the Chinese Government to decentralize the country's post secondary
system, to divert Chinese Government departments and agencies beyond the Ministry of
Education (hereafter referred to as MoE) from operating higher education institutions, and to
localize a substantial portion of higher education to provincial responsibility. Another purpose of
this process is to integrate insufficient educational capacity, and to make Chinese higher
education internationally competitive in the global knowledge-based economy. As a result, the
jurisdiction of a number of local colleges and universities has been transferred to provincial
educational authorities, and more is on the verge of similar transition. Currently, there are some
110 officially accredited colleges and universities in Chongqing, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou,
which are also experiencing a series of amalgamations, consolidation and rationalization.
Sichuan University and Chongqing University, which are flagship universities in Western China,
have been significantly enlarged from recent amalgamations with smaller institutions.

The region's growing strategic importance in the Chinese economy is the focus of China’s
Western Development Strategy (WDS), which was officially unveiled by the Chinese
Government in 2000. This policy initiative delivers on the Chinese Government’s long-term
commitment to accelerating the capacity building of the less-developed regional economies in
Western China through implementing a comprehensive blueprint involving substantial
infrastructure expenditures and a series of tax incentives to attract inward domestic and foreign
investment. WDS encompasses a prominent education component to significantly upgrade
Western China’s educational capabilities and infrastructure, which reinforces Southwest China’s
position as a promising untapped market for Canadian educational products and services. Also,
Canadian encouragement in the development of medical and educational institutions in the past
provides a strong base upon which to develop new partnerships.

Virtually most colleges and universities in the Southwest are committed to international
partnerships, especially those forged with institutions of equivalent prestige, for multifaceted
reasons such as faculty training, expatriate teacher recruitment, curriculum development,
internationalisation of academic programs and source of revenue. There has been a steady
stream of incoming international visitors to discuss partnerships, but time, energy and

enthusiasm pitched in by both sides in a large number of cases have failed to bring about
operational and value-added partnerships. There is a growing consensus on the Chinese side that
unrealistic pursue of comprehensive institutional linkages, lack of substance, serious
commitments and follow-up have been impediments to effective undertaking of international
operations. Local institutions are now on the way to correct these deficiencies by restructuring
their international operations approach towards focussing on the substance and effectiveness of
partnerships. A number of existing partnerships were still structured upon foreign aid funds
supported by ODA, religious organisations and other resources, local institutions increasingly
recognise the need to reduce such reliance as own capacity develops, and are now looking for
more self-sustaining and commercially viable partnership opportunities with foreign educational
institutions and commercial entities.

A large number of university administrators in the Southwest have previously visited various
Canadian destinations for academic or partnership development purposes. Canada's educational
capabilities enjoy a very positive profile in this region. The regular awarding of Canadian
scholarships to Canadianists in the local academic community, including four in 2001, is very
reflective of the educational dimension of Canada’s broad interests in this part of China.


The Consulate’s intensive engagement with the local education community led to the signing of
four high profile deals by Chongqing University, Chongqing Medical University and Sichuan
University with their respective Canadian counterparts UBC, Dalhousie and Manitoba on the
occasion of Team Canada’s visit in Beijing February 2001. These 100% Canadian content
partnerships established allow these premier Western universities to collaborate with their
Canadian partners in areas ranging from executive management training, AIDS/HIV treatment
and prevention, Orthoptics, e-Commerce to financial services, and served to enhance Canadian
presence in this region. Additionally, Some 20 university administrators participated in the
vibrant education contingent of Team Canada 2001, during which time they had access to
tremendous networking opportunities with Canadian educational institutions represented on that
mission. These interactions were very indicative of local universities’ unprecedented interest in
partnerships with Canadian institutions, and have resulted in subsequent bi-directional follow-up
visits, most recently as University of Manitoba’s visit to Yunnan Agricultural University and
Chongqing University’s visit to UBC.

Other established partnerships with Canadian institutions include the Audiology Graduate
Program between Dalhousie and the prestigious Western China Medical University (acquired by
Sichuan University in a recent amalgamation); the twinning between York’s Osgoode Hall and
the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, which offers instruction in Canadian
Law to southwest China; the collaboration between the University of Calgary and the Southwest
Petroleum Institute in executing a CIDA project on gas and petroleum technology transfer.
Beyond these, Sichuan University has developed China’s first accredited graduate degree
program in Canadian Studies. There are currently four Canadian Studies establishments in this
region, respectively hosted by Chongqing University, Sichuan University, Sichuan International
Studies University and the Southwest Science and Technology University. Among these
institutions, SISU was widely recognized within the Chinese Canadianist Community as the

location where Canadian Studies in China originated. The orientation of Canadian Studies in the
Southwest covers a diverse spectrum ranging from literature, translation, architecture,
environmental sustainability, private sector and community development, engineering to
innovative ways to share Canadian experience and expertise in order to address the many vexing
development priorities in Western China.

Through bilateral and partnership programs over the past few years, the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA) has sponsored some 35 university or college linkages, which
account for approximately 20% to 25% of CIDA’s ODA disbursements in China. These linkages
involve many Chinese institutions, including colleges and universities in the Southwest such as
Sichuan University, Western China Medical University, Southwest Science and Technology
University and the Southwest Petroleum Institute. In October 2000, the annual Canada-China
Higher Education Linkage Forum co-sponsored by CIDA and MoE was hosted in Chengdu by
the Western China Medical University. This event brought together Chinese and Canadian
colleges and universities involved in the CIDA educational initiatives in China. A number of
local colleges and universities from Chongqing and Sichuan presented at this event as observers.

In partnership with the Chinese MoE, CIDA further committed Cdn$ 2 million to help bring
interactive satellite-based training opportunities to teachers in Western Sichuan’s widely
dispersed Tibetan communities. Beyond the CIDA OGA aide, in 1988, Vancouver-based Panda
North American Ventures invested in the construction of a modern classroom building at the
Guang’an Junior High School, the alma mater of the late Chinese paramount leader Deng
Xiaoping. Sunlife Assurance donated USD 600,000 in the building of a Sino-Canada Friendship
Primary School in the proximity of Chongqing’s Three Gorges population resettlement zone.
The Canadian business community present in this region collectively donated twice in support
of an initiative by the local charity to return dropout female students in rural and remote
communities to school. All these Canadian contributions were inserted high profile in major
local media outlets, and went a long way in advancing Canada’s public diplomacy in the

In early 2001, the Consulate was the only foreign mission in Western China invited to attend and
address two major regional education conferences, which brought together all major colleges
and universities in Chongqing and Sichuan. In May 2002, the Consulate facilitated a partnership
mission across Canada by a group of 27 university presidents, vice-presidents and deans from
the SW China university community. This delegation visited UBC, Simon Fraser, Universities of
Calgary, Regina, Saskatchewan, Waterloo, Toronto, Western Ontario, McMaster, McGill as well
as Carleton. This mission signed 5 cooperative agreements with Canadian host institutions and
initially discussed 45 partnership possibilities in 16 areas. There have been proactive follow-ups
on the leads generated by this mission, such as the recent return visits to Chongqing by the
President of the University of Waterloo and a senior delegation from McMaster. This missions
was virtually the first time for so many university presidents and senior educational
administrators in South-western China to band together on a single mission to Canada without a
stop in the US despite their busy schedules. The mission was emblematic of the local university
community’s commitment to partnerships with Canada.


With China’s recent WTO accession, Canadian exporters are better positioned to take advantage
of increased access to business opportunities being opened up in all committed sectors of the
Chinese economy. The WTO membership will bring about far-reaching impact on China’s
education industry and unleash new opportunities in this sector for Canadian institutions and
educational service providers, as China strategically reforms the structure of its controlled
educational regime to respond to the many challenges that WTO membership brings in.
Canadian institutions and education providers enjoy a competitive edge in providing the many
much- needed educational solutions to various segments of the Chinese economy in assisting
China's globalization and full integration into the international economic institutions.

In-depth WTO familiarisation and sensitivity training programs have been launched to train the
Public Service and senior executives from both the private and public sector economies so that
their performance and professionalism can be brought closer in line with international standards.
High-quality human resources, especially professional and technologically innovative talents,
are essential. Priority will be given to the nurture of talents with financing, trade, insurance, law,
accounting and management expertise to meet the demand of economic restructuring caused by
the country's entry to the WTO. A delegation of bankers from all local commercial banks is
currently in Canada for advanced financial and management training organised by the Canadian
Bankers Association.

Although China did not commit to open up institutions involving the military, police, politics,
party schools and preliminary education to foreign organisations, higher education, vocational,
adult and secondary technical education institutions will be encouraged to work with overseas
partners to operate correspondence schools in China. A set of provisions governing joint venture
educational establishments will be proclaimed to help foreign institutions better make of China's
education polices. China will put greater efforts on expanding bilateral and multilateral
educational partnerships and on stepping up reciprocal academic degree mutual recognition
between Chinese institutions and their international counterparts. Policies applicable to
investment from overseas individuals for operating schools on the Chinese mainland are also on
the horizon. Diploma or degree programs set up jointly by Chinese universities and their
international counterparts have began to spring up mostly in coastal cities, now expand into the
interior, including Southwest China. In 2001, the Chongqing Education Commission endorsed a
degree-granting program on computing science and information technology involving a local
college and the University of Plymouth in UK. This partnership will become operational this
year to enrol students through China’s annual National College Entrance Examination. A similar
partnership on management has also been established between the Chongqing University of
Commerce and a university in France.

To meet the challenges of the WTO and boost the competitiveness of the Chinese economy, the
MoE now encourages English-Mandarin Chinese bilingual teaching at the tertiary level,
especially for courses on info-tech, biotech, finance and legal studies. Importing foreign
textbooks and education materials is now encouraged. Vancouver-based China Ventures Inc.

(CVI) has signed a deal with a private educational product company in Chengdu, to jointly
develop an IT textbook and CD-ROMs, for the 11 million elementary and middle school
students in the Sichuan Province. CVI’s CDN$290,000 investment in the partnership will allow
it to receive 50% of the profits with a guaranteed minimum return of 20% on invested capital
according to the deal.

Some 22 university-born science parks and 6 university-based incubation centres for
commercialising technological findings have sprung up, including the Science Park at
Chongqing University. These parks and centres will be further developed to help bolster
technological innovation and fuel the development of info-tech, biotech and other high-tech

Beyond conventional school education, the Chinese government is committed to speeding up
distance-learning programs via broadcast, television, satellite and the Internet, promoting
community-based education programs, and further making available access to primary and
middle school education in the central and western region. China has allocated US$602 million
to further popularise primary and middle school education in central and western regions over
the course of 2001-05. 28 pilot centres have been set up across the country to promote
community-based education programs, such centres will be expanded to offer pre-employment
and job-training programs for the workforce. Plans are in the pipeline for China to restructure its
fleet of 1,200 vocational higher learning institutions to build a network of community colleges
largely based on North American model.

The Chinese Government's Western Development Strategy (WDS) features a prominent
component to expand and upgrade existing ICT infrastructures and to maximize the Internet
access capacity at colleges and universities throughout the West. The Chinese Government has
allocated US$ 100 million in support of the implementation of this initiative over the year
2002-03 timeframe, with most of the expenditures front ended. In addition to numerous
domestic players, other major international competitors are also competing vigorously for a
piece of the pie on the ground. CNI represents considerable commercial opportunities for
Canadian ICT infrastructure suppliers and e-Learning solution providers. Canadian companies
operating in this region such as Nortel and Nordx/CDT are looking at CNI very seriously and
have teamed up with the Consulate to engage decision makers in both government and the
university community so as to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity. The Consulate has
spent a substantial amount of time partnering promotional and hospitality events co-sponsored
with regional IT departments, to promote these firms' capabilities and to facilitate
communications with senior local decision-makers. During a recent official call with China’s
Education Minister, Canada’s Ambassador in China Joseph Caron underlined Canadian
commitment to the West and registered Canada’s commercial interest in this initiative. Western
colleges and universities are interested in procuring state-of-the-art software from quality and
cost-competitive Canadian exporters, where Chinese software developer community has
insufficient capabilities and expertise.


Canada was ranked in the MoE official statistics released in February 2002 as the 4th largest

receiving destinations for Chinese students, after US, UK and Australia. According to local
immigration authorities, there were over 4,000 Southwest China high school and college
students going to study in about 20 overseas destinations in 2001, including the US, UK,
Australia, Singapore, Japan and Canada.

With the internationalisation and commercialisation of higher education, the student recruitment
industry in the Southwest has prevailed as self-supporting students seek to conduct a portion of
their education in another country as additional preparation for brighter career opportunities in
China. In addition to the 20 approved recruitment agents, another 130 unapproved also operate
in the region. The government’s ambiguous licensing requirements are circumvented.
Substantial profit margins, misinformation, failure to meet contractual obligations and deceptive
marketing practices have negatively impacted the reputation of this industry, and complaints
against certain unacceptable practices of unauthorised agents are reported in local media. It is
noteworthy that almost half of the 20 approved agents in the Southwest are commercial entities
operated by local universities or provincial education commissions, which are envisioned by
students and parents to be more trustworthy and reliable due to their corporate social
responsibilities. To minimise the likelihood of risks, Canadian institutions intending to recruit
students through arrangements with local agents are well-advised to conduct thorough
background checks on their bona fide and do so with those legitimate ones. Approved agent
listings may be obtained from the Consulate upon request.

The student recruitment market in the Southwest is becoming incrementally competitive like
elsewhere in China due to the presence of multiple destination countries and the economic
benefits of international students to host institutions. It is harder for foreign education
institutions to individually recruit students on their own initiatives. Alternatively, many countries,
such as UK, Australia and Singapore, have been licensed to hold student recruitment fairs in
China. In February 2002, the Canadian Educational Centres Network (CEC) undertook its
inaugural student recruitment fair in Sichuan’s capital city Chengdu and received a turnaround
of close to 2,000 student visitors and accompanying parents looking at Canada as a potential
study destination. The British Council’s Office in Chongqing, with a high level of resourcing
and through its many aggressive initiatives, takes credit for the excellent job they perform in
assisting British educational institutions in student recruitment.

It is worthwhile to note that in-China delivery of foreign educational programs, including ESL
and pre-university education, is favorably viewed in this region as a more cost-effective
alternative of obtaining a foreign-based education. Several partnership arrangements of such
have been established in Chengdu involving UK and Australian universities. This may impact on
the student recruitment efforts by those Canadian schools offering ESL and pre-university
education courses.


Working in conjunction with the Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa and the other
four Canadian diplomatic missions in China, the Canadian Consulate in Chongqing is
responsible for the delivery of Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and the management of
Canada’s trade and economic relations with Southwestern China. Since its opening in 1998, the

Consulate has made solid advances in moving the education file forward by branding Canadian
institutions as partners of choice and promoting substantive partnerships at every opportunity.
The Consulate has been hark at work in support of Canadian higher education interests in this
region by promoting the establishment of meaningful linkages between Canadian institutions
and their South-western China counterparts, and by promoting the marketing of education
services and products such as private sector software, e-learning courseware and distance
learning solutions.

Canadian institutions and education products providers interested in this region can expect to
take advantage of the well-established and cooperative working relationships that the Consulate
has structured over time with major decision makers and players in the region’s educational
community. The Consulate is committed to expanding our responsiveness to the emergence of
those value-added partnership opportunities in the region, which can bring educational and
economic benefits to Canada. We also stand ready to co-ordinate our efforts in this region more
closely with Canadian institutions, who are invited to communicate directly to the Consulate
information about their plans and programs in Southwest China.

Canadian institutions should take note that, unlike Canada’s education system, in which
particular faculties of universities usually have the lead and discretion in developing
international linkages, the vast majority of colleges and universities in China operate a Foreign
Affairs Office (or renamed as International Office in some cases), which is sanctioned by the
administration to manage and coordinate departmental or institutional partnerships representing
the entire university community. Coordinates of such Office of colleges and universities in the
provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou as well as the municipality of Chongqing may be
provided by the Consulate upon request via email to Mr. Peter Liao, Senior Commercial Officer,
at, who can also be available to facilitate Canadian institutions’
communications with those local colleges and universities that best meet you partnership



Chongqing University is a national university financed and operated by the PRC Ministry of
Education(MoE). As the municipality’s flagship higher education institution, it is a key focus of
the Consulate’s outreach in the higher education sector, with specific cooperation in ICT, culture,
Canadian Studies, management, environment, architecture, and health sectors.

CQU was established in 1929. In 1942, it was elevated to be a National University when
Chongqing served as China’s wartime capital. In 1996, it was designated by the MoE among the
internationally competitive universities China seeks to build in the 21st century. In 2000,
MoE-directed consolidation amalgamated Chongqing Architectural University (CQAU) and
another small institution into CQU, and today the enlarged CQU is a multi-disciplinary
institution with degree offerings in science, engineering, economy, management, humanities,
law and the arts. Currently, CQU offers 52 undergraduate programs, 41 doctorate programs, 57
master programs, 8 post-doctoral stations. Forty-one programs currently enjoy the status of key

programs at state, ministry and provincial levels, while sixteen laboratories are similarly listed.
Current enrollment is 40,000 students, including 586 doctoral candidates, and 3,167
postgraduates; with 3 academicians, 113 doctoral supervisors, 390 full professors and 1,248
associate professors.

CQU has long been active collaborating in international academic exchange and research. It has
signed partnership agreements with more than 30 universities in the US, UK, Japan, France,
Germany, Canada, Korea, Russia and Hong Kong. The British Consulate and the British Council
office in Chongqing provide substantial scholarship assistance in support of these linkages.

Exchanges between Canada and CQU are growing steadily. CQU’s Party Secretary visited
Softworld in 1999, and its Vice President visited Softworld 2000 in Halifax and met with the
President of Dalhousie. These links in the ICT sector are now being extended as Canadian firms
seek to participate in the Campus Network Initiative for IT infrastructure upgrading currently
being developed. CQU representatives attended the CEC Education Fair in Beijing last year, and
University College of the Caribou (Kamloops, B.C.) has visited twice pursuing cooperation in
management and business training. The President of CQU (former Educational Councilor at the
Chinese Embassy in Ottawa), with the International Office and Business Faculty involvement,
signed an MOU with UBC during Team Canada to provide advanced management training to
CQ Public Service and private sector executives. On Team Canada, CQU also signed an MOU
with Dalhousie to cooperate in eBusiness and financial services. CQU is currently developing a
teaching hospital, with strong interest by Canada. Finally, The College of the North Atlantic
(Newfoundland) is cooperating with CQU and the Southwestern Institute of Technology
(Chengdu), to hold a conference on energy efficiency in spring, 2003. CQU was recently
approved by the MoE to set up a software college, and its President is now looking at the
possibility of partnering with the University of Waterloo to get this new establishment up and

On September 29, Canada’s new Ambassador to China, Joseph Caron, opened the new Canadian
Studies Centre at CQU, with a focus on science and management - a new and positive departure
from the traditional literature/translation orientations of most Canadian Study Centres in China.
The Consulate is now discussing a visit by CQU President Wu and other South-West China
University Presidents, across Canada this spring to further institutional links in several sectors.
The strong links with the current University leadership positions Canada for a strengthened
relationship with CQU to advance this range of cooperative opportunities, and to reinforce the
Canadian image as a partner to this gateway city in China’s Western Development Strategy.


Sichuan University is located in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital city. As Chongqing University, SCU
is also one of the limited number of key higher education institutions directly financed and
operated by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and it is considered as another flagship
university in the China West. Sichuan University’s current President Dr. Lu Tiecheng was
previously with the Chinese Embassy in Washington as the Educational Councilor. In addition to
the SCU presidency, Dr. Lu concurrently serves on the Province’s Legislative Assembly as
Deputy Speaker.

SCU was enlarged through amalgamations with the Chengdu University of Science and
Technology, and most recently with the prestigious Western China Medical University, which
was built 70 years ago by Canadian missionaries (former Canadian Secretary of State, Asia and
Pacific, Raymond Chan visited those western style buildings on its campus in 1998). SCU
current has a student population of more than 40.000 with 5,000 academics on its faculty.

SCU has some 80 partnerships formed over time with universities in more than 30 countries and
regions, particularly with American institutions due to the facilitation by the US Consulate in
Chengdu. Notwithstanding, those with Canada are the most active and viable ones amongst the
30 that remain operational. SCU has an active Canadian Studies Centre supported by a team of
30 Canadianists from across the university academic community. This centre, in partnership
with the university’s School of Foreign Languages, operates China’s sole accredited graduate
program on Canadian Studies. SCU Professors have been regularly awarded the SACS (Special
Award for Canadian Studies) and the CCSEP (Canada-China Scholar Exchange Program)
scholarships through a merits-based competitive selection process, including 3 in 2002.

SCU signed a MOU with the University of Manitoba on Team Canada 2001 in Beijing. The two
universities collaborate to undertake joint research on AIDS/HIV treatment and prevention. SCU
is also the successor to the fully operational Canada-China Audiology Graduate Program, a high
profile partnership initiated by the former Western China Medical University and Dalhousie,
which respond to the medical needs of a 30 million population with hearing impairment in


Peter Liao, Senior Commercial Officer
Canadian Consulate in Chongqing
Phone: 86-23-6373-8007      Ext/Vmail: 3351
Fax:      86-23-6373-8026

International Partnerships
Education Commission
Municipal Government of Chongqing
Phone: 86-23-6363-5846
Fax: 86-23-6385-5956
Contact: Prof. Fu Minghua, Director

International Partnerships
Education Department
Provincial Government of Sichuan
Phone: 86-28-6118-376

Contact: Prof. Chai Li, Director

International Partnerships
Education Department
Provincial Government of Yunnan
Phone: 86-871-5141-238
Fax: 86-871-5141-355

International Partnerships
Education Department
Provincial Government of Guizhou
Phone: 86-851-5286-933
Fax: 86-851-5283-389

International Partnerships
Chongqing University
Phone: 86-23-6510-6574
Fax: 86-23-6510-6656
Contact: Prof. Wu Yansun, Director

International Partnerships
Sichuan University
Phone: 86-28-5401-952
Fax: 86-28-5403-260
Contact: Prof. Zhang Youde, Deputy Director

The Chongqing Education Commission and the Education Departments in Sichuan, Yunnan and
Guizhou are provincial-level government agencies responsible for the educational industries in
their respective jurisdictions. These organisations administer most local higher education
institutions beyond the few key universities still directly operated by the MoE. They represent a
crucial step in the regulatory approval process. If supportive, they can greatly facilitate

PDF-formatted China Education Market Report prepared for the Team Canada 2001 trade
mission to China by the DFAIT market research Centre, as well as briefs prepared by the
Canadian Embassy in Beijing addressing various specific issues of the Chinese education
industry are accessible on the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service Website at the following
URL location:

Canadian institutions are also encouraged to use the following Internet-based information
resources to keep abreast of new developments in the broad tapestry of the Chinese education
system and region’s education sector.

Ministry of Education
Government of China

China Education and Research Network

Education in China

Education in Sichuan

Education in Chongqing

Education in Yunnan

Disclaimer: the Consulate of Canada in Chongqing has prepared this brief based on primary and
secondary sources of information. The accuracy and reliability of the information contained
herein should be independently verified.


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