The Largest University in Western China
Sichuan University is located in downtown Chengdu, a celebrated historical and cultural city, known as “the land of plenty”. It consists of three campuses and covers an area of 470 hectares. Founded in 1896, it was one of the first universities in China to adopt a western approach to education. It has come a long way in the last 120 years. Sichuan University is ranked number 28 in the world, only behind well regarded universities such as Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford.
The Student Body
Sichuan University’s total number of students is about 63400. However, if you’re not of the social type and not comfortable at large universities, you might not like it and may find it too overcrowded. International students number only about 500; 409 of them are undergraduates. Chinese undergraduates outnumber their international counterparts by more than 100 to 1.
Most of Sichuan’s architecture is Chinese in nature, the traditional curved roofs being a feature of many of the buildings. Some of its buildings have great historical significance, dating back to the 19th century. Though the university is in the center of the city of Chengdu, it boasts beautiful gardens, parks and sports fields. Located near Minshan Mountain and Emei Mountain and surrounded by the Jinjang River, water features surprise the visitor at every turn.
You will be highly impressed with the huge number of staff at Sichuan: there are 11,357. 1,323 are professors, 2,345 are associate professors, 13 teach at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, 434 are tutors of doctoral students, who are also staff members, 17 are associates of the Academic Degrees Commission and the Discipline Assessment Group and 23 are professors from the Yangtze River Academic Prize Plan.
Low Faculty to Student Ratio
Faculty to student ratio is about 15:1, which means staff can provide a substantial amount of one to one tuition if need be. This is an advantage rather peculiar to Sichuan University as most universities do not have such a low faculty to student ratio. Li Lanqing, the former Vice Premier, commented, ‘Sichuan University is a pioneer in the institutional reform of higher education. It’s one of the first universities being reformed and has made historic contributions to the reforms of higher education in China.’
Sichuan University offers a wide range of disciplines in humanities, science, engineering, medicine, economy, management, law, history, philosophy, agriculture and education. The university’s motto is, ‘The ocean is inclusive because it embraces hundreds of rivers and greatness comes with an open mind,’ which is indicative of its multi-disciplinary approach to education. Over the years it has become known as an institution whose degrees are attained at a high degree of excellence, while incorporating a willingness to embrace innovation in method and use of technology. Well known Chinese alumni include Yang Shangkun, the fourth President of the People’s Republic of China, the author and archaeologist Guo Moruo, the novelist Ba Jin and the philosopher Feng Youlan.
There is a university museum (the only one of its kind in China) which has a comprehensive collection of over 40000 cultural relics and over 600000 animal and plant specimens. The science, history and agriculture departments are directly involved in the maintenance of the museum. At the Archives and History Exhibition Center there are over 9000 volumes of historic archives.
Some of the University’s Achievements
Sichuan University is known as a center devoted to research. In China its achievements are second to none. It has 13 nationally recognized laboratories and engineering centers, most of which are directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. Since 2005 the university has won 34 major awards in three national award categories for science and technology. In the field of humanities and the social sciences, experts associated with the university compiled, edited and published several extensive collections and anthologies concerning culture, including a Chinese dictionary and a history of Chinese Taoism and Confucianism.
This year the university celebrates its 120th anniversary and a committee has been set up to organize the celebrations. It is a great opportunity to look back at the university’s history and recognize its achievements. Many well-known alumni will be attending the event.