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Zhang Xiaohui: Tsinghua PBCSF: Past and Future | 40 Years of Excellence

Time: 2021-05-12 08:17 Print

From 1981 to 2021,

over the 40 years of development,

Tsinghua PBCSF calls for rigorous thinking

and becomes a flagship institution in financial education.

From the Graduate School of the central bank

to Tsinghua PBCSF,

we strive for excellence

and embrace the world.

(In celebration of 40 years of excellence. Selected speech at the 2021 Tsinghua PBCSF Alumni Development Forum from Dean Zhang Xiaohui.)

"Strive for excellence; Innovates for the future." 2021 marks the 110th anniversary of the Tsinghua University and PBCSF’s 40 years of excellence. 

Over the 40 years, the School has cultivated generations of elites and talents. Enjoying a high reputation in financial education, PBCSF has become a flagship institution in China. Integrating with Tsinghua's rich history, the School has brought together a group of knowledgeable scholars, carried forward the Tsinghua spirit of "self-discipline and social commitment", inherited the PBCSF tradition of "endeavor, innovation, harmony, and contribution", and put forward the mission of “leading finance education and research for national and global prosperity”. PBCSF aims to cultivate top talents with senses of high ethical standard and responsibility, as well as outstanding financial competence. Hence, the School has played an indispensable role in promoting China's financial, economic and social development. Nowadays, the School has grown into one of China's most outstanding institutions for financial education, and is making every effort to build itself into a top financial school in the world.

In terms of School's achievements made in the past 40 years, a myriad of thoughts and ideas have crowded into my mind. I, myself, was a student and now a faculty at PBCSF. If one word is to be chosen to express my feeling at this moment, I think it must be "gratitude". I am gratitude for the era of reform and opening-up for bringing opportunities to the School's development. I'd like to express my gratitude to the People's Bank of China (PBOC) and Tsinghua University for their guidance and support; to sister universities and financial institutions for their selfless assistance; and to the faculty team that has made great contributions; and students who study hard at school and make their own contributions to the society. It is your joint efforts that makes today’s PBCSF.

Please allow me, on behalf of Tsinghua PBCSF, to extend my sincere respect and heartfelt gratitude to all friends who concern and support the development of our school! I'd also like to share a few of my thoughts at this moment.

I. Tsinghua PBCSF was established at the time of China's financial reform and grows with China's financial development.

In December 1978, China held the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), at which the reform and opening-up policy was clarified. Since then, the CPC has shifted the focus to economic construction. At that time, promoting financial system reform was required as an internal need of economic development. Deng Xiaoping, then leader of China, indicated that "banks should become leverages for economic development and technological innovation. They should take their due responsibilities." At the beginning of reform and opening-up, everything in the financial industry needed to start from scratch. The then Vice Governor of the PBOC Liu Hongru who had been keen and foresighted, realized that the shortage of financial professionals would be the biggest obstacle for China's financial reform and that it would be an urgent and important task to foster the high-level financial management talent. Therefore, Liu paid numerous visits and contacted lots of personnel, gathering a group of farsighted intellectuals and industry experts to discuss the establishment of a financial school. Finally, the leading body of the PBOC designated the People’s Bank of China Research Institute of Finance to establish a school for training graduate students in finance. Carrying numerous expectations and gathering elites of the times, the Graduate School of the People’s Bank of China Research Institute of Finance was officially established in 1981 at Wudaokou, Haidian District, Beijing. It is China's first higher education institution in the financial system to cultivate senior financial management talent.

In the past 40 years, the School has shared its breath and destiny with China's financial reform. On the one hand, the financial reform has promoted China’s economic development, during which our students have also developed and grown. On the other hand, our students have been dedicated to financial reform practices, playing a significant role in impelling China's finance to make new breakthroughs. The students of the School have engaged in every aspect and every sector of China's financial field, including the establishment of the central bank system framework, specialized banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges, and China Securities Regulatory Commission, reform of commercial banks, the founding of non-bank financial institutions, interest rate liberalization, market-based exchange rate formation, RMB internationalization, and comprehensive systematic construction of the central bank, financial macro-control, financial institutions, financial market, and financial regulations. They have made remarkable contributions and achieved notable success to China's financial development, undoubtedly, winning a high social reputation for the School. 

Each era has its own theme and bestows missions on its generation of people. The School's most successful educational experience is to actively respond to the call of the time and explore methods to solve problems. In the early stage, the School was confronted with many challenges. The most intractable ones included how to break the traditional mono-bank system under a planned economy along with the establishment or restructuring of national specialized banks; how to promote the reform of the financial system; how to establish a modern central bank system; and how to push the reform of state-owned commercial banks. In response to these challenges, the School took the lead in offering courses on market economy, such as macroeconomics and microeconomics. In addition, it recruited learned professors from overseas to teach financial courses. It also introduced the practical cases of China's financial reform into classrooms to train students' thinking on the market economy and improve their ability to participate in financial reform and lead financial innovation. At the Second Annual Meeting of China Society for Finance and Banking in 1984, the 1981 and 1982 class students provided a forward-looking solution to explore the financial system reform strategy, suggesting that China could establish financial markets to accelerate its financial engagement with the world. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were heated debates across society on whether a capital market was necessary during the shift from a planned economy to a market economy; how could the capital market be positioned in the financial system; how could we establish and supervise the capital market; what type of issuance and trading systems should be adopted; and how could we help Chinese enterprises enter the international capital market. In combination with the research on these questions, the School had offered the course "Research on China's Capital Market". During that period, most of its graduates were devoted to the capital market. After the financial crisis of 2007-2008, China's innovation in the financial market was further sped up, with the accelerated integration and innovation between the financial market and information technologies such as internet finance, big data, and artificial intelligence. Various financial institutions also underwent rapid development, indicating a new round of financial development. To this end, the School has established the Fintech Lab, National Institute of Financial Research, and Institute for Fintech Research to conduct a prospective study and incorporate the results into its talent training system to offer advice and suggestions to China's fintech development strategy.

Over the past four decades, the School has consistently adhered to its goal of cultivating talented people required by financial development, established a down-to-earth attitude and innovative ideas, built a superior faculty team consisting of full-time, adjunct, and special-term lecturers who value both theory and practice, optimized the talent training program and curriculum design in a timely fashion, and created a unique model for the education and cultivation of high-caliber financial talent.

II. The unique school-running features are comprised of up-to-date curricula, a faculty composed of full-time, adjunct, and special-term professors, teaching method highlighting practical ability, and alumni culture. 

Since its establishment, the School has defined its goal - cultivate much-needed high-quality talent for China's financial development. Mr. Liu Hongru also explicitly proposed that the School should focus on cultivate practical professionals who are capable of adapting to the development of the market economy. After merging into Tsinghua University, the School put forward the mission of “leading finance education and research for national and global prosperity”. This is also the aspiration of the School since foundation. In the past 40 years, the School has been making explorations in financial education with Chinese characteristics. Its teaching concepts and modes such as financial practice teaching and open school management are distinctive among universities and colleges, winning the reputation of "flagship institution" in the area. In summary, the School has the following four major school-running characteristics:

First, up-to-date curricula, designed in accordance with the market economy, to adapt to economic and financial development. When the School was established, renowned professors Chen Daisun, Hu Daiguang, and Li Yining from Peking University and Huang Da from Renmin University of China were invited to serve as counselors of the School to design talent training programs, adapting to the market economy and financial reform. The School is the first in China to offer courses on western economics to develop students' thinking ability of market economy. With the deepening of China's financial reform, establishment of the central bank system and the capital market, the School has adjusted and updated its curricula to keep abreast of the times. During the discussion on the establishment of the central bank system, the School held a special lecture on the central bank. When the State Council advanced financial system reform, the School launched courses on the reform of China's financial system. After the inflation in the economy, the School held special lectures to introduce the countermeasures and lessons learned from other countries. During the establishment of the capital market, the School offered courses on China's capital market research. The School also invited a number of foreign experts and well-known financial professionals to give lectures. They have brought to the School financial theories and practice in line with international standards, as well as cutting-edge international mindsets and visions, which were far ahead of the financial teaching practice in China. The School's students are exposed to state-of-the-art economic and financial theories and knowledge structures. 

Second, a superior faculty consisting of full-time, adjunct, and special-term lecturers to ensure the best teaching quality. The School did not have its own faculty at the beginning of its establishment. Conventionally, a school without full-time faculty cannot assure its teaching quality. However, the School has turned the unfavorable situation into a favorable one. By widely recruiting famous faculty, it has recruited a strong and inclusive faculty. Its faculty members include the best teachers for the economic and financial courses in universities and colleges across the country and experienced foreign experts who teach professional courses in English, as well as industry experts proficient in China's financial practice and supervision. Adhering to the concept of open school management and the mode of combining education, scientific research, and business, the School enables its students to have access to much up-to-date information, develop critical and innovative thinking, and offer their own opinions on practical economic and financial issues. In addition, the School acts as a pioneer of keeping the unique tradition of engaging external supervisors to develop its characteristics and advantages in talent training. A large number of experts who are from monetary authorities, financial regulators, commercial banks, capital markets, insurance institutions, and other financial sectors with profound theoretical foundation and practical experience, have been invited to serve as supervisors of graduate students and doctoral students.

Third, the connection between theory and practice for the training of practical capability. Unlike other universities and colleges attaching importance to the traditional method of theoretical teaching, the School pays special attention to the cultivation of students' practical capability and launches case-based teaching for China's financial practice. Led by Mr. Liu Hongru, leaders of banks and directors of departments have attended the classes at the School. They exchange experience from their work, inspiring students' in-depth thinking. In the School, most supervisors come from the financial community, and the research directions of students' theses are the major problems and frontier problems to be solved in China's financial industry. As what is advocated by Mr. Liu Hongru — "engaging in and experiencing financial development", the School continuously deepens its teaching based on the principle of integrating theory with practice.

Fourth, the important intangible assets: the spirit of endeavor, innovation, harmony, and contribution. The School's alumni are the most solid social strength for the implementation of the open school management, the key to the successful persistence of integrating education, scientific research, and business, as well as the most distinctive core competitiveness of running the School. Alumni make great intellectual and financial contributions to the School’s development. First, as the decision-making body of the School, the Board consists of four alumni who provide directive guidance on the School's major development strategies, discipline construction goals, development plans, and teaching and research with close ties with the industry. Second, the Strategic Council has 11 alumni to provide suggestions on the development strategies of the School. Third, alumni introduce chair professors and donate research centers and scholarships to the School, playing an essential role in building a national financial think tank, an optimal platform for training financial leaders and building a world-class school of finance. Fourth, alumni extensively participate in the School's faculty construction, subject study, recruitment, degree and non-degree course teaching, and employment and recruitment of practice bases, helping students apply the knowledge they learn in practice. 

III. The School graduates has become an important driving force for China's financial, economic and social development.

In 1986, John Joseph Phelan Jr., chairman of the New York Stock Exchange of the United States, came to visit China. At the first stop, he came to the School to give an academic lecture and said that "China's future financial talent will come out from here". The Wall Street Journal also covered this news, "The Graduate School of the PBOC is cultivating a new generation of outstanding financial talent; the mission of reform will fall on 200 young students in their twenties." In 1995, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post published an article, saying that "In the United States, an MBA degree from Harvard University is a pass to success in the business world; similarly, the pass in China is the degree from the Graduate School of the PBOC". The Graduate School had received high praises. In addition, its students had endeavored in the great tide of China's financial reform and made impressive achievements.

In 1984, students at the School put forward a blue book on financial reform at the annual meeting of the China Society for Finance and Banking, marking a milestone in the School's history. Since then, the School's students have been recognized by high-level administrations, propelling China's financial reform. Later, the graduates had been pioneering roles in China's financial innovation. They participated in the founding of China Merchants Bank — the first joint-stock bank wholly owned by corporate legal entities in China; established China's first securities company - Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Securities Co., Ltd.; established the first listed commercial bank - Shenzhen Development Bank; founded China's first fund — Fudao Fund; built China's first bank card standard system — China UnionPay... Our alumni have been senior officials at financial regulation departments or served on key posts; they are founders or directors of financial institutions such as banks, securities companies, insurance companies, funds, and trust institutions; or they are outstanding experts and scholars in academia and research institutions. They have witnessed China's financial reform and made respective contributions. We are proud to claim that the PBCSF has succeeded in accomplishing its mission of cultivating talent for financial development.

In March 2012, through the joint effort of the PBOC and Tsinghua University, the Graduate School merged into Tsinghua University as Tsinghua PBCSF. Over the nine years, PBCSF has made great educational and scientific research progress, in improving the school-running environment, innovation in school management and educational pedagogy, and introduction of domestic and overseas talent. With its further development, the School has seen significant changes in student who are of different ages, educational backgrounds, and life experience across the country. They are master's degree graduates who enrolled through competitive entrance examinations, doctoral students with strict academic training background in pursuit of scientific research, and Finance MBA students from strict admission, as well as those, with years of working experiences, for the Executive Education, EMBA, and GSFD programs. As of July 2020, the alumni totaled of 2,450 master's degree graduates, 300 doctoral degree graduates, 207 Finance MBA graduates, and 420 Finance EMBA graduates. Meanwhile, it offers annual training courses to senior managers from enterprises and professionals from financial institutions.

PBCSF has inherited and developed its tradition of engaging in industry supervisor and adjunct faculty. Simultaneously, it has introduced a world-class full-time faculty team, building a new faculty team consisting of both full-time and part-time faculty, while paying equal attention to theory and practice. On the basis of its Master of Finance and Ph.D. in Finance programs, the School offers the Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree Finance MBA Program, Finance EMBA, Global Finance GSFD, Executive Education and etc, in an effort to build a multi-level, all-round talent training system. Also, it has vigorously initiated China-based academic and policy research by successively founding the National Institute of Financial Research, and the Institute for Fintech Research, to provide intellectual support for the stable development of the financial industry and facilitate the national financial reform and opening up. Currently, the School has developed into a higher education institution with Chinese characteristics that demonstrates the Tsinghua culture and carries forward the School’s traditions. In addition, the School has gone beyond the financial industry and made its presence in the business world, gradually making its contributions to the international community.

IV. The School promotes glorious traditions, and makes unremitting efforts to start a brand new chapter. 

Thanks to the support from the University and the PBOC as well as concerted efforts of the School's faculty, students, and staff, the School has made leapfrog achievements in building the faculty team, reconstructing the talent training system, developing research systems, and serving national strategies. In 2020, we had upgraded the technology innovation talent training system that can cover the commercialization of research findings and serve the full life-cycle and all needs for the growth of science and technology innovation enterprises. In 2021, we have started to build the Tongzhou Campus, aiming to provide intelligent support for national development, better serve the innovation system building in the Beijing region, and propel the fintech development and high-end talent gathering in local community. 

The School is starting a brand new chapter. Currently, we have seen changes in our environment. Beyond that, we are facing more diversified and intense competitions from home and overseas. Talent training and academic research in universities and colleges are of great concern around the world. In the future, the School will accurately respond to new requirements on talent training, actively serve national strategic needs, and strive to cultivate more high-level, innovative, and international financial talents. Specifically, the School should forge ahead on past achievements and integrate expertise into practical issues. 

No matter how far we go, we must never forget where we started; as long as we stay true to our original inspiration, we can move forward better. Yesterday's successes is not a guarantee for tomorrow. I believe, in the next four decades, the School will keep carrying toward the missions endowed by the time and write down a brand new chapter.