Higher Education

, Volume 63, Issue 5, pp 645–666 | Cite as

A world-class university in China? The case of Tsinghua



Higher education, an integral part of China’s nation-building project, is a critical element in China’s strategic policy initiative of building national strength through science and education. One way to achieve this goal is to develop a higher education system of international stature. Perhaps more than any other country, through national programs such as 211 and 985, China has been explicit in selecting its best universities for intensive investment, with the expressed aim of making them world-class within coming decades, and contributing more to overall R&D and scientific development. Analysing how these top-tier universities in China are reaching for the gold standard, and using Tsinghua University as an example, this article examines the role of higher education in China’s rise and how Chinese universities are responding to the drive for innovation, against a background of globalisation and internationalisation. It analyses the experience of Tsinghua, a Chinese flagship university, sometimes dubbed ‘China’s MIT’, through an in-depth case study in an international context, seeking to answer the question of how far Tinsghua embodies the qualities of a world-class university.


Higher education Tsinghua University China World-class universities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education, University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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