Linda Yeung of the South China Morning Post reports on a formerly cash-strapped private college in Shanghai that has reinvented itself to become the first liberal arts college in mainland China, with the goal of nurturing graduates who can think out of the box. Here’s what she tells us about the “Yale of Shanghai”:
Xing Wei College, now backed by the Shanghai educational authorities, is a ground-breaking venture in another respect: all the courses of its American-inspired curriculum are taught in English by faculty members recruited from the United States.
And in a marked departure from the emphasis on the all-important gaokao – nationwide examinations that are the only route of entry to mainland universities – Xing Wei says it is not after students who do well in exams alone.
“We want students who have the courage to pursue their desires, to know what they really want; that’s different from the traditional definition of top students,” college founder and Harvard-educated investor Chen Weiming said.
“Many students have the intelligence but most don’t have the courage; people who can think out of the box need to have a lot of courage.”
Xing Wei occupies a sprawling campus, a 20-minute drive from Pudong international airport, that used to be home to a debt-ridden college. In 2005, Chen bought the site, and after clearing the debt turned it into a liberal arts school in the tradition of prestigious American institutions such as Yale and Boston universities and Amherst College. He and a few other trustees invested 500 million yuan to develop the campus.
Chen expects a small initial intake of 300, including students from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and elsewhere, besides the mainland.