A friend I know from my Taiwan days who is now at Hawaii University was invited to teach Finance at Guangzhou. It was very interesting to hear some of the cross cultural observations of the local Chinese students ("but, teacher, our great leaders say…" etc.) and the academic environment, so I was quite excited when I got the invitation to come have a look at the modern Chinese university.
I have to hand it to the Chinese. The new "Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center" constructed on a HUGE deserted island east of Guangzhou city in no time about 4 years ago is a true demonstration of Chinese determination on boosting up the local academics. Regardless of whether the academic globalization revolution will eventually succeed in China or not, the Chinese have no doubt raised up the standards of campus environment by a few levels.
Here are some shots of the "Guangdong University of Foreign Studies" on a very hot public holiday, where my friend is teaching.
There are some interesting things to observe while walking around the campus. Take a look, for example, at the statues situated all over, symbolizing the academic environment. Can you make them out before reading the description?
Karl Marx and Tolstoy? Confucius also makes an appearance every now and again next to some Greek philosophers.
If they keep putting in all those resources and funds into their education system, I estimate 10 years till they are able to fully compete with the rest of world on top 100 rankings. Oddly enough, my mainland Chinese classmates studying at Hong Kong seem to disagree with me on that prediction, but I reminded them how NUS & HKUST climbed up from nothing to top 50 in about the same time period and that the top 10 national Chinese universities are already doing exceptionally well in the reputation based rankings (like QS).
We’ll see. Time will tell. Impressive nonetheless.