Teaching at a Chinese university vs a Chinese college

Teaching in a Chinese university or college is a common option for people who want to teach English in China. This article will look at some of the key distinctions between teaching at a Chinese university and a Chinese college.

By the conclusion, you should have a good idea of what to anticipate at both types of institutions.

(If you're still thinking about teaching in China, start here, or here if you have more time.)

The name difference Higher education in China is a bit different.

Some institutions have the term "university" in their name yet are not universities.

Sichuan University of Arts and Science, for example, is not a university.

So, how can you know whether a place is a university or not? The solution may be found by looking at its Chinese name.

Universities are just those with the term "dàxué" () in their names.

A school with the characters "zhyè jshù xuéyuàn" () in its name is a technical college, but a school with the characters "wénl xuéyuàn" () in its name is an institution.

This is noteworthy since there are substantial disparities between Chinese universities and colleges.

It's particularly significant since in the West, the terms 'university' and 'college' are often used interchangeably.

Academic liberty

In China, I taught at three colleges and one university. (You can read my piece on what it's like to teach in China here.)

The first difference I've seen is that academic freedom is far greater at Chinese colleges than in Chinese universities.

A instructor at a Chinese college is generally only handed a schedule and a textbook (if one is available for the subject) and told to get on with it.

You are free to teach in whatever manner you see fit.

A Chinese university, on the other hand, may be quite bureaucratic.

They will often instruct you what to teach, how tests should be administered, and even what grades you should award.

They could even have you write test reports or record oral examinations on an audio device.

As a result, an unskilled teacher may be more suited to teaching at a university.

But, if you're a seasoned instructor like myself, being told what to do might be aggravating!

Class sizes at a college are often less than those at a university.

The smallest class I've taught at a college had just four pupils, but a class at a university may have up to 60 students.

Although you may teach a big class as easily as a small one, keep in mind that if you're teaching spoken English, you'll only have two periods to administer tests.

Trying to conduct oral examinations at a university might be a nightmare!

Here's a look at what it's like to teach spoken English in a Chinese university.

Job fulfillment

Regular classes with students you see every week are more probable at a college.

This is really important to me since it allows you to get to know your kids.

At a university, the goal may simply be to "process" as many students as possible as soon as feasible. You could be subjected to an arrangement in which you teach a class once, then assess the pupils the next week before moving on to a new set of students.

In comparison to a college, a Chinese university may be defined as a degree factory.

As a result, if you're a professional teacher, you'll be happier in a college than at a university.

That has been my experience, at least.

Job stability and security

A position at a college may be less secure than one at a university due to the smaller class numbers.

My contract was not renewed at any of the institutions where I taught, but it was renewed four times at my current university.

Evening and weekend sessions are available.

In China, a public university is a massive institution.

It may have both international students and part-time students who come to class on weekends because they work during the week.

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