Based in the Northern Border Area of China, IMU Is Striving to Build a First-Class University with Unique Characteristics

Boosting Education and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region(IMAR)-Genetic Code for IMU’s Growth

As time goes by, IMU is having another harvesting season. Entering the lush campus of IMU, you can see people everywhere busy and full of energy and vitality.

In the IMU Museum, eye-catching are those precious old objects, yellowed pictures and emotion-provoking introductions. These valuable things are recounting the glorious history of IMU-the first comprehensive university established by the Communist Party of China (CPC) among the regions inhabited by the ethnic minorities. They have witnessed how IMU, the university in the northern border area of China which was strongly supported by a dozen of prominent universities like Peking University when it was established and has been eulogized as the Pearl on the Grasslandby different ethnic groups in IMAR, is striving to open up a path, with high expectations, for the construction of a high-quality university in the border regions inhabited by ethnic minorities.

Since its establishment, IMU has been in the thoughts of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, highly valued by the IMAR CPC Committee and government and strongly supported by such ministries as the Ministry of Education(ME). It has experienced four historic leaps in its development from an ordinary university to a national key university, a university with the ordinary-university-like support to one with the special support under the Project 211, a university supported by IMAR government to one supported by IMAR government and co-supported by ME, a university under the Comprehensive Strength Improvement Plan for Universities in Central and Western China to a candidate university which is built to be Double-First-Class(Double-First-Classis from the term Double First-Class Initiativewhich is started by China to build world class disciplines and universities. ) and the university supported and co-supported by ME and IMAR government. In over 60 years, IMU has stayed true to its original aspiration to train talents for the CPC and the country, born the responsibility to base itself in the northern border area of the country and boost education and development in IMARand adhered to the IMU’s Two Key Principles advocated by IMU’s first president, Ulanhu-while training the talents for the country like other universities, IMU also trains ethnic minority talents. This is the genetic code for the development of IMU,said Zhu Bingwen, secretary of the IMU CPC Committee.

In 2017, IMU was selected as a candidate university that is built to be Double -First-Class. In 2018 it became the university supported and co-supported by the ME and IMAR government. As a result, IMU has new opportunities and challenges in its development. As a regional university located in the western border area of China which is populated with the ethnic minorities, how should IMU develop into a Double-First-Classuniversity? How to find new space in its unbalanced development, especially the way to break the existing bottlenecks like relatively poor foundation for its development, relative shortage of high-level talents, underfunding, relatively poor ability to bring in and cultivate high-level talents and fewer high-quality scientific achievements, is a tough question that IMU has to answer.

In the new development situation, IMU has carefully reflected on and explored the train of 4444thought and measures for its ‘Double-First-Class’ construction. In our opinion, for IMU which is a regional university, the essence of its ‘Double-First-Class’ construction is to keep a foothold in the international academic frontier, base itself in the northern border area of the country, highlight demand orientation and become a first-class university while it produces first-class innovations and makes first-class contributions in serving the development strategies of the country and the autonomous region. This is a target, a route and a standard for the university’s development. While serving the high-quality economic development of the autonomous region, promoting the ethnic unity and progress, building a firm eco-shield in the Northern China and a strong shield for security and stability in northern border area of China, serving the Belt and Road Initiative and helping the autonomous region win the three tough battles(i.e. targeted poverty elimination, prevention and control of pollution and prevention and resolution of major risks), IMU will make its ethnic characteristics and regional characteristics more prominent. It will also improve its quality and level in pursuing its first-class innovations and contributions,” said Chen Guoqing, president of IMU.

Since being listed as a candidate university which is built to be Double-First-Class, IMU has clung to its orientation of producing first-class innovations and making first-class contributions, reinforced its own quality, attached importance to its connotative development, stuck to its mode of development driven by two engines of the improving strength and deepening reform with talent training, ability to innovate, service and contributions as core elements, carried out Six Strategies(i.e. high-level talent introduction, first-class discipline construction, improvement of scientific research and innovation ability, cultivation of top innovative talents, supporting and leading the regional innovation-driven development and improvement of internationalization), accelerated Reforms in Six Respects(i.e. talent management, academic management, scientific research mechanism, mode for talent training, democratic management and social cooperation mechanism), consolidated the foundation, kept upright and enterprising, and striven to build a first-class university with unique ethnic and regional characteristics.

July 16, 2020 is bound to be a very important date in the history of IMU. On that day, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, inspected IMU. He listened to the introduction to the universitys construction and development, teaching and scientific research, talent cultivation and ideological and political construction. He also examined the book exhibition about the achievements in Mongolian language, literature and history. Xi stressed that more efforts should be made to collect, organize and protect ancient Mongolian books and tap into and carry forward the progressive philosophy of ethnic unity and progress in the books to encourage different ethnic groups in Inner Mongolia to be united and better their lives together. Xi also entered the reading room of the IMU library, kindly greeted the students there and asked them about their study and life. He encouraged the students and said that a nation will be strong if its young people are strong, that future competitions among nations lie in young people and that young people today are the backbones to realize the second centenary goal of China. He said that college students should be ambitious, down-to-earth, knowledgeable, academically solid-foundationed and talented and contribute their wisdom and strength to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.  

The important instructions general secretary Xi gave to IMU profoundly elaborate on such basic, directional and overall important matters as what universities in the border regions inhabited by ethnic minority groups should be like in the new era, how universities there should be run and for whom universities should be established. His instructions at IMU have the same essence as his elaboration on education and the spirit of his instructions about the work related to Inner Mongolia. And his instructions for IMU point out how the universities in the border regions inhabited by ethnic minority groups should develop in the new era. IMU is sure to bear in mind Xis instructions, stick to its socialist nature, stay true to its original aspiration, keep in mind its missions, and adhere to its openness and development in competition to grow into a first-rate university with its own unique characteristics. IMU will try to keep upright, innovative and indomitable to provide the higher education that the people are satisfied with and make contributions to building a beautiful Inner Mongolia and realizing the Chinese dream,said Zhu Bingwen.

Building a First-Class University-A Glorious Task Endowed by the New Era

IMU gathers power with its strategic goals and stimulate energy with its mechanism innovation. The university has been sticking to the principle to base its development in the land of China and cultivate talents to serve Inner Mongolia. It has had the clear development target to construct a first-class university with unique ethnic and regional characteristics, formulated the university philosophy to base itself in the northern border region of China, gear its development to the needs of the whole country, try to reach the high level of the world top universities and cultivate talents with virtues,  put into practice the strategy to drive IMU’s development with both improving strength and deepening reform , launched Six Major Strategies((i.e. high-level talent introduction, first-class discipline construction, improvement of scientific research and innovation ability, cultivation of top innovative talents, supporting and leading the regional innovation-driven development and improvement of internationalization)in an all-round way, and deepened the Reforms in Six Respects(i.e. talent management, academic management, scientific research mechanism, mode for talent training, democratic management and social cooperation mechanism).  IMU will make all its efforts to push forward its Double-First-Classconstruction.

A first-class university is based on high-level talent teams. IMU systematically improves the competitiveness of its personnel system. With the introduction and cultivation of high-level talents as the starting point, the university puts more energy into attracting the excellent talents at home and abroad and improves the ability of talents who are now with the university. Thus its talents teams have shifted from outflowto inflow, from an MA(master degree)-dominated structure to a PhD-dominated and from bring in excellent doctorsto bring in and cultivate high-level talents. Now 73.9% of IMU’s teaching staff is doctors. 59.5% of IMU’s teachers are those who are under 45 years old. There have also been breakthroughs achieved in bringing in and cultivating high-level talents. IMU has attracted world-class scientists and leading scholars in humanities and social sciences at home to work at the university and lead the development of certain disciplines. Some young talents are academically maturing rapidly and beginning to show their academic potential in their fields.  

To promote the construction of a first-class university it is a key to forge predominant disciplines with its own characteristics. IMU has broken up the closed development mode which is discipline-for-disciplines-sake and established the new mode under which academic-frontier research is combined with practical needs; if a key innovative subject is found and approved, different disciplines will coordinate their efforts for the innovation, centering around the subject; strategies drive projects and projects drives allocation of resources; and the university rises and improves the level of its disciplines in pursuing first-class innovations and making first-class contributions.

IMU has further adjusted and optimized the overall arrangement of its disciplines. The important national and regional strategic needs, as the leading forces, pushes such disciplines of IMU as life sciences, ecology, environmental science and engineering and chemistry and chemical engineering to work together to tackle key problems. IMU puts much energy into building the uniquely-characterized leading discipline group of “grassland resources utilization and ecological security in the northern China”. In the fields of Mongolian studies and ethnology, the university focuses on such innovative themes as the development of ethnic minority groups, hand-down and innovation of ethnic minorities’ culture, ethnic unity and progress, Belt and Road Initiative, construction of the economic corridor between China, Russia and Mongolia and studies of neighboring countries and pushes the coordinated development of the disciplines concerned. Other disciplines of the university have also formed and concentrated on innovation themes and promoted their own development in pursuit of “first-class talents, first-class achievements and first-class contributions.  

With the new train of thought for discipline development, IMU’s disciplines which are rated among the top 30% of all disciplines of China has increased from 2 to 4 and those ranking among top 40% increased from 6 to 9, which are half of the disciplines of Inner Mongolia rated among the top disciplines of the country. Since the 12th Five-Year Plan went into force, IMU has had 11 more first-level disciplines that have the right to confer doctors degrees, which makes the first-level disciplines and second-level disciplines of IMU which have the right to confer doctors degrees shift from 1 and 7 to 12 and 1 respectively. Of these disciplines, 5 more first-level disciplines that have the right to confer doctors degrees have been added since 2017. Besides, IMU adds some disciplines that have the right to confer professional masters degrees which are indispensable for the economic and social development of Inner Mongolia, like degrees of resources and environment, bio-medicine, material and chemical engineering, electronic information, transportation, tourism management and applied statistics.

Ability secures the achievement of first-class innovations and contributions. IMU concentrates its efforts on bettering its scientific innovation and serving the key strategies of the country and the autonomous region, reinforces its construction of the significant scientific research platforms, strengthens its support for the construction concerned, and optimizes its governing mechanisms. So its ability to undertake key projects has been strengthened and its remarkable scientific research achievements hugely increased. Since 2017, IMU has newly added 8 national-level scientific research platforms and through competition gotten 20 national-level key natural science projects and key social science projects approved. The number of natural science projects that IMU is undertaking and that of its social science projects have reached a new high. As a whole, the ability of IMU’s faculty to conduct research has prominently improved. Since the 12th Five-Year Plan began to be implemented, IMU’s fund for its research has increased 4 fold year-on-year. IMU’s per capita fund for the research which its teachers won through the competitive projects has reached more than RMB180000 which tops among the regional universities of the country. The influence of its academic achievements in the world is tending to rise quickly and more than 140 countries around the world are paying close attention to IMU’s academic achievements. In 2019, the influence of its academic achievements around the world has increased 2.4 times and 11 fold respectively in comparison with 2016 and 2010.

To train first-class talents, it is the key to train talents via strengthening virtue education. IMU adheres to the practice that ideological and political education runs through its teaching and education. The university puts emphasis on strengthening its own ability to train talents, perfects its reform in its mode to train innovative undergraduates which is student-centered and supported by the combination of learning, teaching and innovative practice and its pattern to train its postgraduates that is “research-and-teaching integrated and output-and-teaching combined”. It devotes itself to training the leaders and backbone talents who pursue truth, knowledge and excellence, who have perfect personality, strong build, broad knowledge basis and innovative capability, who are developed in an all-round way but have their own individuality, global horizon and sense of responsibility and who can push forward the regional progress and advancement of the times.

From 2017 to 2019, IMU had 11 and 12 majors qualified respectively as national-level and regional-level candidates to be built as first-class majors. Added are 2 projects of the Ministry of Education for promoting emerging engineering education and 7 undergraduate majors. IMU are successively listed among the first batch of nationally culturally-advanced university, the first batch of 99 demonstration universities which deepen the educational reform in innovation and entrepreneurship, and top 50 universities which are experienced in innovation and entrepreneurship in 2018.

To be first-class, global horizon is in dire need. Since the 12th Five-Year Plan was put into practice, IMU has formally established inter-collegiate relations of cooperation and exchange with 105 foreign research institutions and universities-an increase from 52. The university has founded Sino-U.S. Center for Conservation, Energy and Sustainability Science, Sino-British Digital Laboratory, Sino-Japanese Center for Joint Application of GIS and Regional Economy and Industries, Sino-Russian Joint Laboratory of Behavioral Economics, the Center for Studies of Mongolia, the Center for Russian Language and Culture, Canadian Studies Center, Japanese Studies Center, Australian Studies Center, and American Studies Center. IMU has also jointly established a Confucius Institute with Kalmyk State University. IMU is also one of the first batch of ME-approved demonstration universities for international students to China. Since 2017, IMU has admitted more than 4000 international students from 32 countries. It is the university in China that admits the most students from Mongolia and has the most alumni in Mongolia.

Keeping a Foothold in Academic Frontier and Serving the Regional Development-IMU Is Writing Its First-Class Chapter in the Northern Border Area of China

In the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Regulation and Breeding of Grassland Livestock which is located on the south campus of IMU, the leaders of the research teams are discussing the establishment of the League for the R&D of Mongolian Cattle.

Li Guangpeng, leader of one team and scholar with Chang Jiang Scholars Program, said: “The grassland in Inner Mongolia is rich in biological resources. Mongolian cattle, goats, camels and horses are all unique breed resources to cultivate high-quality breeds. We are preparing to establish an innovation and cultivation base for the grassland livestock breeds to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the ecological animal husbandry in the grassland of Inner Mongolia. As the key discipline being supported under the country’s ‘Double First-Class Initiative’, we are focusing most efforts on the way to provide the all-round innovative support for the development of the green agriculture and animal husbandry in Inner Mongolia.”

In scientific research, IMU clings to the principle to “keep a foothold in academic frontier and serve the regional development”. With the support of the scientific research platforms like the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Regulation and Breeding of Grassland Livestock, the discipline group of “grassland resources utilization and ecological security in Northern China”(hereinafter referred to as the group.) pays close attention to Inner Mongolia’s future, basic and key needs while keeping a watchful eye on the latest development of the world academic community. Therefore, the group has improved its ability for innovation rapidly and made lots of achievements.

The group has fostered the high-grade and high-meat-producing Chinese yellow cattle whose growth rate and meat production rate have improved 20% and 15% respectively, cultivated the high-cashmere-producing Albas goats whose cashmere production rate has increased over 50%, researched and developed high-quality and high-yielding man-made-grassland planting technology and degraded-grassland improving and restoring technology, and led the application of the project for the construction of the Coordinated Innovation Center for Ecological Security of Grassland which is jointly supported by ME and IMAR government and got it approved. A demonstration project was completed in June, which is about the technological integration of ecological restoring of the degraded grassland and sustainable development of grass industry and animal husbandry and family ranches. The project provides a new path for the development of grass industry and animal husbandry, which puts ecological environment first. As for the clean utilization of coal resources, IMU has developed the key catalyst and core technology for producing isobutanol with syngas and is cooperating with enterprises concerned to conduct a 100-tons -per year pilot scale production. For water-related environmental issues, the university has conducted the key specialized project of Inner Mongolia-research and development and demonstration of the key technologies for the control and comprehensive treatment of water pollution in three lakes in Inner Mongolia. Through the project, the university has clarified the mechanism for the changes of ecological environment of water, and brought up and demonstrated the treatment measures.

With the integration of different disciplines and coordinated innovation, the disciplines of IMU are keeping abreast of one another and developing increasingly fast.  Since 2017, some research achievements of science and engineering in somatic cell nuclear transfer in mammals, embryo-induced new pluripotent stem cells, epigenetic regulation mechanism of cancer stem cells, RNA cap epitranscriptome, polymer nano material, and high performance electrocatalytic nano material, are published in such global top academic journals as EMBO Reports, Cell Research, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Chemical Reviews, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. and Nucleic Acids Research. The achievements of its 3 joint researches are published in some academic journals affiliated to Nature. In humanities and social sciences, IMU has got approval of 92 projects from the National Social Science Fund of China and other 10 key projects, which tops among the universities of the country. Besides, IMU has got 3 Famous Science Research Achievement Awards in Higher Institutions (for humanities and social sciences) from the Ministry of Education, and 11 Famous Philosophy and Social Sciences Achievement Awards and 4 Talent Awards from the government of IMAR, which are more than half of the awards conferred by the autonomous region government.

To serve the key strategies of the country and provide intelligence support for the economic and social development of Inner Mongolia, IMU has set up such academic platforms as the Center for Mongolia Studies, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Research Institute, and Inner Mongolia Center for Clean Government Studies, and organized and established IMU Think Tank which is selected as member of the Cooperative League of Think Tanks for "Belt and Road Initiative". In 2019, the Digital Platform for Northeastern Asia Language Resources was funded by the autonomous region government as a key specialized project. In 2020, the Research Center for the Community of the Chinese Nation is selected as one of the first batch of the cultivating bases for forging the sense of the community of the Chinese nation, which are jointly built by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Education and the National Ethnic Affairs Commission.

To give a hand to innovation and make more contributions, IMU has established the Center for Technology Transfer, Innovation and Technology Research Institute, and the Office for the Opening and Sharing of Scientific Research Infrastructure and Scientific Research Instruments. In Hohhot, Xilingol, Ulanqab, Ordos and Chifeng, the university has established the demonstration bases for the breeding of high-quality beef cattle, mutton sheep, cashmere goats and milk-producing sheep, the  demonstration bases of potato seed industry and the base for the research and popularization of the industrialization of the culture of Liao Dynasty which was ruled by the ethnic group of Qidan.

Source of Power: Activating the Power of Entrepreneurship with the System Innovation

To promote the connotative development of higher education is the essential requirement for building a Double-First-Class university. In building such a university, IMU has been clinging to the all-around leadership of the university by the CPC, carrying out the education principles of the CPC in an -around way, initiatively exploring the contemporary university-governing system in which the university CPC committee leads, its president takes responsibility, professors do research, university management is conducted democratically and non-governmental sectors get involved. To improve the competitiveness of its system, IMU has set a stage for its staff to devote themselves to their cause in aspects of building sound system culture, bettering supporting conditions, improving teachersmoral standards, deepening the reform of personnel system and optimizing the system of performance assessment.

Seeing Wang Chunyan, distinguished research fellow of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, supervisor of PhD students, she is doing an experiment about the biological and physical nature of nucleic acid. This post-1980 PhD student supervisor joined IMU through Courser Plan-a talent attraction plan of the university. After she came to the university, Wang quickly established a laboratory, organized her research team and began to conduct the research in such aspects as nucleic acid assembly and nucleic acid thermal dynamics. Since 2017 the Courser Plan, with the purpose to attract and cultivate high-level talents and annual salary system and employment-term evaluation as the main characteristics, has attracted 29 young excellent talents like Wang Chunyan to join IMU.

The discipline of chemistry at IMU is developing very fast because it first began to carry out Courser Planat the university. Until now it has brought in 15 high-level talents through Courser Plan. These talents focus on the design and manufacturing of the mineral resources in the grassland like rare earth, grapheme and coal and key technologies for the effective and clean use of the resources. And they have made a batch of internationally influential innovations in the fields of chemistry and materials, whose influence are close to that of top 1% in the world. It is introduced that IMU plans to bring in 500 full-time academic leaders, academic backbones and young talents with academic potential.

In the cultivation of talent teams, IMU takes measures to provide support at the same time in following 5 aspects-theme of innovation, talent teams, platform conditions, project approval through competition and achievement-making. In conferring academic titles, the appraisal work is done with discipline-based evaluation, comprehensive evaluation and evaluation of representative works by experts of the same discipline from other universities. In salary, IMU has made and put into practice the IMU Implementation Measures on Merit Pay, explored the feasibility of annual salary and contracted salary, adhered to the principle to distribute according to ones work and pay high for high meritand made the IMU Implementation Measures on Prize for Departments Outstanding Work which has its own unique characteristics. All these measures have stimulated the enthusiasm of research teams and individual teachers and boosted the development of the university.

Feilong is a young Mongolian teacher with IMU who is trained and cultivated by the university. He is also the third-generation researcher for the Mongolian information processing. The laboratory where he works has got 68 patents and software copyrights in recent years. The first AI Mongolian anchor in the world which his laboratory has developed came out in July, 2020. In 2019, his research team applied for the establishment of “the Joint Engineering Center of the Central Government and Regional Government for Intelligent Processing of Mongolian Information” and the National Development and Reform Commission approved the application, which shows that this regional application research team has rapidly grown into a national-level research platform.

Qi Zhi, deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Breeding and Regulation of Grassland Livestock, came back to IMU from abroad in 2010. He focuses on green development in Inner Mongolia. After he returned, his research focus has shifted from plant molecular biology with arabidopsis thalian as the object of study to the relations between health examination of grassland and grass(high-quality graminaceous grass) that goats graze. His research team has grown into the key laboratory of the Ministry of Education for grass and unique crops bio-technologies.  

Pushed by its first-class goals, driven by double engines of the improving strength and deepening reform and promoted by Six Key Strategies and  Reforms in Six Aspects, IMU has formed the atmosphere for its staff to devote themselves to their work and achieved much in research and application in the following aspects: modern agriculture and animal husbandry, ecological environment protection, energy and new materials, utilization of mineral resources, bio-medicines, food security, new-generation information technology, building of a region with powerful ethnic culture, strategic decision-making and consultancy. IMU is cooperating in an increasingly deep and wide way with local governments and enterprises and contributing more and more to the social and economic development of IMAR.  

Focusing on the northern border area of China, IMU is in its prime. To serve the development strategies of the country and Inner Mongolia, build a strong green ecological Great Wall and an important shield for the ecological security in Northern China and construct a strong shield for the security and stability of northern part of  the  country , IMU is devoting itself to the prospective, basic and important innovations, and trying its best to build a key base in the northern border area for cultivation of high-quality talents, high-level research, high-quality achievement transformation, consultancy for high-level decision-making and inheritance and innovation of ethnic culture. IMU has made its mind to make its contributions in its efforts to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, which lives up to the expectations of the people and the age.(This is a report from Inner Mongolia Daily and contributed by Zhuo Wen)

Reporters Notes:

In August, trees are lush and flowers are blooming at IMU. From time to time, the graduates from the university present bouquets to the statues of Li Jitong, Chingortai, and Shorgan. By doing this they pay their respects to the deceased scholars; by doing this, they want to engrave on their mind their responsibility to be based in northern border area of China and boost education and the autonomous region; by doing this, they say goodbye to their alma mater and embark on their new voyage.

This university which has a history of more than 60 years, has graduated over 160000 students of different ethnic groups. Among them are Shorgan and Liu Yao, academicians of Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Zhang Jie and Zhao Jincai, academicians of Chinese Academy of Natural Sciences and Jinhai who was an outstanding CPC member and eulogized as Pavel Korchagin in the grassland. At this university, IMUers in the new age are practicing the university motto of to pursue truth and be practical, passing down the spirit of pursue truth and excellenceand starting for the new goal of building a first-class university with unique ethnic and regional characteristics.

Some days later, this beautiful university will have another batch of ambitious freshmen of different ethnic groups come here. They will study and grow up here, take in knowledge and temper their willpower and character here. They will become eagles flying off from here, steeds galloping in the grassland and pillars from Inner Mongolia in constructing socialist modernization in the new era.


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