China: A Follower or Leader in Global Higher Education? By Marijk van der Wende and Jiabin Zhu


This paper focuses on China both as an object and a subject in the globalization of higher education and the sometimes paradoxical nature of the country’s policies in this respect. How is the Chinese perspective on globalization shaping its agenda for higher education, the development of world-class universities, and cooperation with Europe and the West? What is China’s role in the globalization of higher education, its global agency in higher education, and the impact of its diaspora, soft power, and its new Silk Routes policies? What is its capacity to become a global leader in higher education, i.e. in creating global public goods, such as knowledge and educational opportunity? It seems that China’s higher education focus is shifting, widening, and diversifying. It is seeking a leading role along its New Silk Roads, primarily in its neighboring region, but potentially reaching out into Europe. This is in line with its renewed economic policy, aimed at innovating its large-scale manufacturing sector and reducing regional inequalities. A more diversified higher education system should come along to support this. At the same time, China is still an important basis for talent recruitment by the US and Europe. China’s higher education sector is thus becoming more complex and will require a next level of strategic management, facilitated by new governance models which allow institutions to seize their opportunities, while guiding the country as a whole towards a World-Class System

Publication date: 
February 1, 2016
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
CHINA: A FOLLOWER OR LEADER IN GLOBAL HIGHER EDUCATION? by Marijk van der Wende and Jiabin Zhu CSHE 1.16 (February 2016)