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The Higher Educational Transformation of China and Its Global Implications


  • This paper has been written with support from The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI, Waterloo). We thank Emanuel Ornelas, Peter Schott, John van Reenen, Stephen Redding and participants of the Emergence of China and India in the Global Economy Conference (London, UK, 2008), as well as Kun Peng, Li Wang and Weimin Zhou for valuable comments.


This paper discusses the major transformation of higher education that has been under way in China since 1999 and evaluates its potential global implications. Reflecting China’s commitment to continued high growth, this transformation focuses on major new resource commitments to tertiary education and significant changes in organisational form. All of these changes have already had large impacts on China’s higher educational system and are beginning to be felt by the global educational structure. This focus on tertiary education differentiates the Chinese case from other countries who earlier at similar stages of development instead stressed primary and secondary education.