India, China and the Press

TORONTO — In both India and China, developments in higher education receive substantial press attention, said panelists at a meeting here. But that attention doesn’t necessarily mean that the right issues are being explored, they said.

“The question is how the media can move beyond the elites,” said Rahul Choudaha, director of research and strategic development at World Education Services. Choudaha spoke here at Worldviews 2013: Global Trends in Media and Higher Education, of which Inside Higher Ed was one of the organizing groups.

In both India and China, readers are tremendously interested in higher education, but much of the coverage focuses on what Choudaha termed “the 1 percent,” those who go to the best Western or local universities.

Coverage in China has seen a notable improvement in the last 10 or so years, said Zha Qiang, associate professor of education at York University. Through the 1980s, media in China acted primarily as “a propaganda vehicle” for the state when it came to higher education. More recently, however, he said that the Chinese press had focused attention on issues such as plagiarism, even though this reporting casts some academics and institutions in a negative light. (He acknowledged, as did other members of the panel, that the Chinese press has not focused much on what many termed a key issue for higher education in the country: the lack of academic freedom.)

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