Amazing Cultural Explorations: Educational History Being Made in China


Authored By Ted Sun,
Past-chair of ACBSP Region 8 and Vice Chancellor, SMC University


Stepping onto the campus of Shanghai Business School (SBS), a unique excitement filled my mind. This was the first time in ACBSP history that a Chinese business school is starting the road towards accreditation. My excitement was one of wonderment at the dedication of the university environment in China. Before entering the campus of SBS, one must go through security at the main gates. I was shocked at the walls that contained the school. Even with its many buildings that house twelve departments along with dormitories, walls surround the campus presenting the seriousness of education in China. Unlike universities in other parts of the world like the U.S., E.U., and Africa, you cannot just park your car and walk onto a university campus. As I talked with the school officials, I learned that undergraduate students all stay within the enclosed community with strict times for bed and lights out. I quickly realized that the many suggestions from parents to their children heading off to college are formalized within the system. Suggestions like “go to bed early so you can wake up on time for class” are part of the norm of university life. Lights are turned off systematically at a certain time in the dorms. Over the next two days, I witnessed many fascinating characteristics in SBS that continue to linger in my mind. The higher educational system in China has such a huge focus on studies. Even when in Mongolia or Thailand, neighboring Asian nations don’t share the same level of systematic focus on education. My excitement led me to ask many more questions about the unique nature of the Chinese higher education system.

China has been a sleeping giant since the end of WWII. Once the cultural revolution ended, the opening of China led the way for many new businesses. Within two decades, China advanced from a low-cost producer to an integrator. In its desire to become a global leader in innovation and technology, SBS has made a historical decision to lead Chinese universities towards ACBSP accreditation. This is a 60-year-old university boasting over tens of thousands of graduates with many successful leaders in politics and business. Currently, the school has more than 10,000 full-time students among its campuses. Delivering the education calls for more than 400 full-time faculty members with 38% of them holding advanced degrees. Furthermore, SBS also retains more than 100 visiting professors from top-level business executives. This leads SBS to be a powerful brand in China – a brand that enables 95% of its graduates to obtain employment after the successful completion of their studies (Shanghai Business School, 2016).

With great honor, ACBSP received SBS’ application for candidacy status in early 2016. Over that summer break, I had the honor of learning a great deal from my visit to SBS. While the cultures between the U.S. and China have many differences, the focus on quality education is well aligned. The collectivist mentality working under a consistent government has created a unique educational environment. Starting in the morning, I was amazed to see the student innovations illustrating the length of lines and quality of food in the main cafeteria of the school. Some of the HD monitors displayed the busyness of food vendors in a graph. This made food choices very efficient in a three-floor building full of tasty foods. In addition to the HD monitors, a smartphone application also shares the information. This was a result of a class project from students that enables all students to make informed decision about meals during a busy day of class. As the day progressed, I introduced a preliminary questionnaire to the faculty as the first step towards ACBSP accreditation. I quickly learned about the rigor it takes to become a lecturer within SBS. After one graduates with an advanced degree, a mandatory program that teaches the faculty how to teach, one’s educational career. After the mandatory program, all new faculty engage in a one-on-one mentoring program as they begin to teach. These practices help develop the teaching skills of faculty systemically.  Along with talented and innovative students, the faculty at SBS was impressive in the development of their faculty. It is no wonder they can achieve a 95% employment rate after graduation.

China is a unique educational environment. SBS is leading the way for other schools to explore further international collaborations. During one of the meetings, a fascinating phrase was brought into the conversation. As ACBSP grows internationally, how do we deal with the question in regards to the “sovereignty of education” within a nation? We welcome your input into this fascinating new market for ACBSP.