Support for entrepreneurship on the rise in Chinese education

Updated 2017-09-15 09:30:40 Xinhua

Over the past two years, more and more people have been seen riding yellow bikes on Chinese streets. These bikes are provided by the three-year old bike-sharing company ofo, which raised over 700 million U.S. dollars in funding in July.

Dai Wei, the company's founder and CEO, established ofo with four other Peking University students, who were all born after 1990. Youth is on their side.

China is producing more young entrepreneurs than ever before. The number of students starting businesses right after graduation rose from 1.6 percent in 2011 to 3 percent in 2017, according to a report by MyCOS Research and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This means that more than 200,000 out of 7.95 million college graduates in 2017 became entrepreneurs.

The China College Students' Internet Plus Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition has been held for three consecutive years and its popularity is growing fast. More than 1.5 million students from 2,241 universities and colleges took part in 2017.

Dai says that the boom in student entrepreneurship is linked to the support of universities and the government.

"Peking University cultivated my entrepreneurship. And central government policy supports an environment favorable for making innovations," Dai says.

For Zheng Xiaojing, president of Xidian University in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, education in innovation and starting a business must be integrated into higher education.

"Students' innovative spirit and entrepreneurship need to be inspired by higher education," Zheng says.

Xidian University has established spaces where students can put their business ideas into practice. Entrepreneurship and innovation projects, paper publication and academic competitions are included in the university's credit point system.

Such novelties in the curriculum have been popularized in higher education institutions nationwide, propelling faculty to adapt to the new environment.

The Ministry of Education issued a guideline in 2016, encouraging university teachers to improve their teaching and assessment methods, transform their research into products, or even start their own businesses.

By the end of 2016, the number of full-time university and college teachers specializing in innovation and entrepreneurship reached more than 26,000, and the number of part-time tutors stood at over 76,000.

Besides education, students need incubators to make their dreams of entrepreneurship come true. Over the past two years, 19 demonstration bases for entrepreneurship and innovation have been set up in universities.

Tsinghua University's iCenter is one of these bases. The incubator supports 3,000 students to realize their dream every year.

Sichuan University in southwest China's Sichuan Province, together with a local bank, established a risk compensation fund worth 12 billion yuan (1.83 billion U.S. dollars). The fund is for college students in Sichuan to take out loans for their business projects.

Science and technology parks at various universities have become a hotbed for new high-tech companies, promoting the development of companies and helping the local economy.

The country's education sector is sparing no efforts to pave the way for future entrepreneurs.

"I think we must, when we are young, do as much as we can to realize our dreams that are of value to the society," Dai says.

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