University appointment puts spotlight on selection

Under the current system in China, a university president of the stature of Lin Jianhua of Zhejiang University is appointed – without much public input – by two departments: the organisation department of the central committee of the Communist Party of China and the Ministry of Education, reports Global Times.

Officials from these departments announced Lin's appointment last Wednesday at a meeting of the university's leadership. In his first speech Lin admitted to some weaknesses, saying his oratory skills needed work and that he is unsociable, but that he would "shoulder the negative pressure" and carry out his job. Professors and students at the university, however, remained sceptical of his suitability, saying he is not familiar enough with the university.

The ministry started reforming the university presidential appointment system in 2011. Since then, five institutions have used an ‘open’ recruitment process to select presidents, where a committee is formed to choose candidates, and the candidates are evaluated using a number of criteria, including interviews and public opinion polls. However, none of the top universities in China have opened up their presidential selection processes.
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