BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) — Elderly people in China will have the opportunity to continue their education in a national-level university from the 2023 spring semester onwards.
The establishment of The Seniors University of China (SUC) for the aged is a concrete measure to address population aging in China and an important milestone in the reform and development of education for the elderly, said China’s Minister of Education Huai Jinpeng, at the inauguration ceremony on Friday.
The university provides students with skills training, cultural inheritance education, social services, scientific research and international exchanges, and offers both online and offline teaching activities for the elderly nationwide.
The aging of China’s population is becoming more evident, with the number of people aged 60 or above in China expected to exceed 300 million by 2025. Grasping demographic trends, China has introduced a raft of measures to broaden senior citizens’ access to education.
In its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), the country has outlined an array of measures to boost education for the aged, which included building a national university for the aged, with the Open University of China as a basis, and supporting participation of schools that meet the relevant standards in elderly education initiatives.
Currently, more than 8,000 teachers have joined the faculty pool of the university, providing diversified educational services for the aged in fields including recreation, health care, and skills improvement, thereby helping to realize the dreams of students in their twilight years.
By the end of 2022, 30 branches of the Open University of China had set up provincial-level open universities or specialized institutions for the elderly, and more than 55,000 education and learning centers for the elderly had been established at the grassroots level.
Under the SUC, a national public service platform of education for the elderly has been fostered, with 407,000 courses totaling 3.973 million minutes, offering high-quality resources to educational institutions for seniors across the country.
According to the university, people aged 50 or older can register online to become its students and enjoy free online courses. They can access the platform via the website lndx.edu.cn, a related app and its WeChat mini program.
The university also provides offline courses. At one of its campuses in Beijing’s Haidian District, enrollment is underway for this year’s spring semester, with 44 courses offered by six colleges. Registration started on March 3 and courses will start on March 20.
The inauguration of the SUC is part of China’s efforts to promote lifelong education, advance the building of a learning society, and provide the elderly with opportunities to further their own pursuits and studies, and to enjoy themselves, said Huai.
China will promote the sharing of quality resources and extend education services to towns, villages and communities, turning the SUC into a university without boundaries between communities, campuses and society, said the minister.
Colleges and universities, as well as vocational colleges, are required to provide services tailored to elderly education, said Huai, adding that China encourages primary and secondary schools to take part in these education initiatives by providing sports and cultural facilities, and supports in-service and retired teachers in devoting themselves to this undertaking.
According to a document released by China’s State Council in August last year, the country aims to establish at least one university for the elderly in every county-level region by 2025.