On December 8, 2011, Chinese State Council’s Leadership Group on Education Reform announced that JI has been selected as a role model for Chinese higher education. The State Council distributed an official document titled “UM-SJTU JI’s Innovative Reform on Cultivating Talents through Faculty, Governance, and Teaching” to seventeen top Chinese universities, including Peiking University and Tsinghua University, which have been chosen by the State Council to launch a large scale experimentation on education reform.
The Leadership Group recognizes JI’s accomplishments in faculty, governance, and teaching since Shanghai Jiao Tong University and University of Michigan established the Joint Institute in 2006. Under the leadership of both universities, JI has integrated with University of Michigan by sharing faculty, curriculum, academic credits, and degrees and has become an innovative system for cultivating talents.
The document outlines three key points:
1. JI has adopted the tenure system from the top international universities, with the same recruitment, evaluation, and promotion standards. It has hired first-rate faculty from all over the world. All tenure-track faculty members can supervise Ph.D students without being approved. JI has reformed faculty salary offerings, with 300,000 RMB a year for assistant professors and a million RMB for top-notch senior professors so that the faculty does not have to pursue “invisible income” from outside at the expense of teaching and research.
2. JI’s innovative governance model has nurtured a positive academic environment. JI has a relatively independent finance department. The Dean reports to the Board of Directors. The Academic Program Group, composed of leaders and professors from both JI and University of Michigan, meets regularly to run the important business of the Institute. The administrative leaders focus on governance, without competing with other faculty for research resources, and are equal with the faculty. All faculty members participate in the decisions regarding faculty hiring, curriculum development, laboratory distribution, and graduate students admission, etc.
3. JI has reformed its curriculum and teaching model so that students can really learn and grow, without the prevalent phenomenon of students not knowing why they are in universities and losing interest in learning because of employment pressure. JI adopts trimester system like other top universities in the world. It offers UM-SJTU Dual-Degree and UM-SJTU Combined Undergraduate/Graduate Program.
The Leadership Group comments that instead of building a separate university, UM-SJTU JI, based on the collaboration between a famous Chinese university and a renowned international university, can serve as a model and spread the benefits to other Chinese universities. As an example, SJTU has established “Introduction to Engineering” course for their freshmen, and many schools in SJTU have adopted JI’s governance model. SJTU’s School of Mechanical Engineering has modeled JI in undergraduate cultivation.
The Leadership Group is impressed by JI’s success in cultivating excellent students. JI’s students are considered the best and most diligent in SJTU campus. Among those continuing to pursue graduate study, 97% were admitted to the top-ten American universities. Among JI’s first batch of 165 graduates, 70 had obtained dual degrees with University of Michigan, with average GPA of 3.8, much higher than UM School of Engineering’s average of 3.2. Out of the 276 graduates of Class 2011, 28 were admitted to Stanford University and 90 were admitted to University of Michigan. For those who entered the job market, starting salaries are 30-40% higher than graduates from other Chinese universities.