EAST China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) recently adopted a residential college system, originated from Western universities.
The university will pilot the practice with 1,100 law-related majors, or one third of this year’s freshmen, and expand it to the whole school next year with more residential colleges.
In total, there will be four such colleges for students of law, political administration, economics and humanity respectively.
It will enroll students with general major classification from this year.
Students of the residential college will receive liberal arts education during the first year and will not be distributed to specific academic study as before.
From the second year, they will have a second identity as students of academic colleges, but will not separate from the residential college. Instead, they will still enjoy the environment of liberal arts throughout their university years.
“The residential college, named after the first president of the university, will include a physical college, a liberal arts education system, mentors and a community,” said Li Jian, Party secretary of Wenbo College.
“We will renovate our dormitory buildings to create dorm rooms for teachers and space for community activities, such as study rooms and gyms. Students will be immersed in a whole environment of liberal arts in study and everyday life.”
The reform is expected to balance overall development and academic study in students.
“The world is more interconnected and it requires our universities to cultivate students capable of understanding interdisciplinary knowledge and solve interdisciplinary problems,” said Yang Zhongxiao, dean of the newly created college.
“With the residential college system and liberal arts education, we hope to enable students to develop such ability and make choice on majors based on personal interests and initial experience in college study,” he added.
Residential college has been adopted by many universities in the world as a platform for liberal arts education and some Chinese universities also followed the trend, such as Fudan University, East China Normal University and Xi’an Jiao Tong University.
But educators also pointed out that more efforts have to be done to give full play to the practice or mechanism.
It is estimated that there are more than 130 residential colleges across China, on various levels of quality.
Though all kinds of functional avenues have been built for residential colleges to carry out activities, the atmosphere and spirit in Western universities with a long history of residential colleges have not been seen in some Chinese universities.
Some universities were so embarrassed that activities of residential colleges saw few participants.
“A university is not only a place for students to learn knowledge, but also a place for them to grow up healthily,” said Cao Wenze, Party secretary of ECUPL. “We know there will be difficulties and challenges in establishing new mechanisms, but we will integrate all resources at school and from alumni and the society to help our students develop into talents meeting demand of the new era.”