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World-class higher education and the emerging Chinese model of the university

Abstract

China’s recent quest to develop world-class universities is a significant phenomenon within the worldwide transformation of tertiary education. Taking a cultural approach and drawing on empirical findings, this article investigates the emerging Chinese model of the university, considering its key features and contributions to global communities. First, examining the rhetoric about world-class universities in varied societal contexts, it explores the institutional initiatives and government agendas involved in China’s drive for global status. Then, using case studies of three universities moving toward mass higher education and world-class status, it shows the role played by their individual institutional initiative. It next describes key features of the emerging Chinese model of the university, including the core values of self-mastery and intellectual freedom, to show how it differs from the dominant Anglo-Saxon and American models but shares some features with the continental European and Japanese models of the university. The final section considers policy implications of the emerging Chinese model, its potential lessons for reform and practice, and its role in fostering vibrant democracies and global dialogue among civilizations in the future.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. The Academician System (yuanshi zhidu) was re-endorsed in China in the early 1990s. The academicians elected are usually senior leading scholars in science and technology with a lifelong commitment.

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Correspondence to Jun Li.

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This study was sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, as part of a project entitled China’s Move to Mass Higher Education: Implications for Civil Society and Global Cultural Dialogue. The author thanks Ruth Hayhoe at University of Toronto, Robert Arnove at Indiana University, Robert Cowen at University of London, and anonymous external reviewers for their valuable comments.

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Li, J. World-class higher education and the emerging Chinese model of the university. Prospects 42, 319–339 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-012-9241-y

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Keywords

  • World-class university
  • Higher education
  • Chiniversity
  • Chinese model
  • Governance
  • Education policy