NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Higher Educational Transformation of China and Its Global Implications

Yao Li, John Whalley, Shunming Zhang, Xiliang Zhao

NBER Working Paper No. 13849
Issued in March 2008
NBER Program(s):   ED

This paper documents the major transformation of higher education that has been underway in China since 1999 and evaluates its potential global impacts. Reflecting China's commitment to continued high growth through quality upgrading and the production of ideas and intellectual property as set out in both the 10th (2001-2005) and 11th (2006-2010) five-year plans, this transformation focuses on major new resource commitments to tertiary education and also embodies significant changes in organizational form. 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. The number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has been grown at approximately 30% per year since 1999, and the number of graduates at all levels of higher education in China has approximately quadrupled in the last 6 years. The size of entering classes of new students and total student enrollments have risen even faster, and have approximately quintupled. Prior to 1999 increases in these areas were much smaller. Much of the increased spending is focused on elite universities, and new academic contracts differ sharply from earlier ones with no tenure and annual publication quotas often used. All of these changes have already had large impacts on China's higher educational system and are beginning to be felt by the wider global educational structure. We suggest that even more major impacts will follow in the years to come and there are implications for global trade both directly in ideas, and in idea derived products. These changes, for now, seem relatively poorly documented in literature.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13849

Published: Yao Amber Li & John Whalley & Shunming Zhang & Xiliang Zhao, 2011. "The Higher Educational Transformation of China and Its Global Implications," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 516-545, 04.

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