The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China recently announced the closure and cancellation of 45 Chinese-Australian joint education institutions and programs at undergraduate level or above. The move is part of a broader action by the Chinese government removing a total of 234 Sino-foreign programs. The terminated Australian programs represent almost one third of all Chinese-Australian joint ventures at this level.
Recent years have seen remarkable progress in the field of educational cooperation between China and foreign countries. However, there are concerns about a small number of underperforming joint initiatives that were found to have poor teaching standards and insufficient educational resources. The ministry stated that “many of the affected institutions and programs had failed to demonstrate any comparative advantage over local programs and the terminations were aimed at improving quality and efficiency of joint institutions and programs.”
Following the ministry’s stringent guidelines in early 2017 for developing Sino-foreign collaborations, new approvals of joint projects with foreign institutions have slowed significantly in the past year. Yet billions of dollars of government investment into higher education are driving Chinese universities to achieve true “world-class” status through greater access to knowledge and approved high-quality educational programs and resources.
In July 2018, Australian EdTech company Syncordia signed an agreement with China Educational Publications Import & Export Corporation (CEPIEC), a state-owned enterprise licensed to approve international digital educational content being imported into China.
Strict regulations within the territory of the People’s Republic of China govern the publication, reproduction, importation and wholesale/retail distribution of published content. Only entities licensed under regulation can import and distribute published content, and CEPIEC is one such entity, established by the Ministry of Education 30 years ago.
Carlton Taya, founder and CEO of Syncordia, describes this breakthrough arrangement in China as unique. “It offers educational institutions, global publishers and authors a legitimate model to distribute their resources while protecting their all-important copyright,” Carlton said. Syncordia has designed and developed its own digital platform which is integrated with DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology. Syncordia’s platform will be hosting and managing digital content into China.
Syncordia’s Chinese partner currently deals with thousands of Chinese universities and colleges, which creates a rapid entry for Syncordia into the higher education sector. Australian institutions can reap significant benefits by leveraging Syncordia’s presence in China, safe in the knowledge there is full compliance with local regulations. But firstly, they must work on improving the quality of their resources and Syncordia is working with Victoria’s education sector to assist them is this area.
Taya’s vision is to invigorate the traditional teaching and learning environment through the digital transformation of resources. Syncordia first introduced eBooks to Australian university students in 2015, which is what drew the interest of the Chinese.