Unveiling China’s university foundations

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The establishment of college foundations in China has witnessed remarkable growth and has become a significant component of the higher education landscape. These organizations play a vital role in supporting public services, fostering talent development, and fostering university-community collaborations.

We delve into the growth trends, geographical distribution, transparency, and impact of college foundations, shedding light on their pivotal role in China’s educational ecosystem.

In recent years, the proliferation of college foundations in China has gained momentum. Out of the 2,759 higher education institutions in the country, 747 have established their own foundations. Among these foundations, an impressive 77 percent are recognized as charitable organizations, reflecting their dedication to social welfare and community engagement.

The surge in college foundations can be attributed to the implementation of foundation administration regulations and education tax policies in 2004. Following these policy changes, the annual establishment of foundations surged to an average of over 40 per year between 2010 and 2020.

However, in more recent years, the growth rate has moderated, averaging 8.3 percent annually from 2018 to 2022. This stabilization indicates the maturity and consolidation of the college foundation sector.

Geographically, Jiangsu Province leads the pack with 98 college foundations, demonstrating its commitment to fostering philanthropy within its higher education institutions. Zhejiang, Beijing, Guangdong, Shandong, and Hubei also boast a substantial number of foundations, each hosting over 40 establishments.

Notably, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Beijing stand out with nearly 60 percent of their colleges and universities having foundations, showcasing the dedication of these regions to promoting the holistic development of their educational institutions.

An important aspect of college foundations is their transparency and information disclosure practices. Among the 747 foundations, an impressive 402 have official websites, surpassing the national average for foundations in China.

These foundations were included in the 2022 CDF Transparency Index (FTI) observation scope, which evaluates self-regulation and disclosure levels. The observed university foundations achieved an average FTI2022 score of 62.68, surpassing the national foundation average.

It is worth highlighting that 39 college foundations attained a perfect FTI2022 score of 100, underscoring their commitment to transparency and accountability.

The impact of college foundations is also evident within the realm of China’s top universities. Among the 147 “double-class” universities, which are recognized as the country’s leading educational institutions, 140 have foundations. Notably, 31 of these foundations achieved a full FTI2022 score, showcasing their dedication to transparency and information disclosure.

Leading universities such as Peking University, Renmin University of China, and Tsinghua University have emerged as trailblazers in this regard, demonstrating their commitment to fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.

Understanding the landscape and impact of college foundations offers valuable insights into their pivotal role in fostering public services, nurturing talent development, and fostering collaborations between universities and communities.

As these foundations continue to evolve, they contribute to the holistic growth of China’s higher education system, ensuring its continued excellence and societal impact.

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