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China's Rising Research Universities

A New Era of Global Ambition

Robert A. Rhoads, Xiaoyang Wang, Xiaoguang Shi, and Yongcai Chang foreword by Ji Baocheng

Publication Year: 2014

This timely study charts the intentional and accelerated rise of China’s research universities by analyzing how state policy has transformed key institutions. Specifically, it addresses how state initiatives have influenced faculty life and academic culture at these campuses. Based on empirical studies at four of the nation’s leading universities and including more than seventy semi-structured interviews with professors and key administrators, China's Rising Research Universities sheds light on fundamental changes in faculty life. These changes amount to nothing short of a dramatic transformation of academic culture at the nation’s top universities. National initiatives driven by China’s Ministry of Education seek to develop two overlapping sets of leading universities, through what are known as Project 211 (which affects about 100 universities) and Project 985 (which affects about 40 universities). Project 985 enhancements are particularly important to the country’s efforts to strengthen university science and research. The book also addresses the broader context of higher education reform in China, arguing that recent efforts to elevate the nation’s top universities toward world-class standing represent a shift in higher education policy development and implementation leading to what is described as China’s Global Ambition Period. Offering important insights into the changing higher education policy context in an age increasingly defined by globalization, China's Rising Research Universities will appeal to higher education leaders and policymakers; students, faculty, and scientists who interact with Chinese counterparts; and scholars of international and comparative studies.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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Title page, Copyright

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Ji Baocheng

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pp. vii-x

Throughout the West, knowledge and understanding of Chinese higher education, and specifically of the Chinese research university, have been somewhat limited over the years. This is in part a consequence of language and cultural differences but also a reflection of the diverse political and ideological trajectories...

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pp. xi-xvi

We organize this book around rich organizational portraits of our four case studies, with each constituting a separate and unique narrative. These case studies are contained in chapters 1 through 4. A more comprehensive discussion of our findings and their implications follows in the conclusion, including a discussion...

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Introduction: The Chinese University and the Quest for World-Class Standing

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pp. 1-30

In August 2010 newspapers around the world reported that China had surpassed Japan as home to the world’s second-largest economy. An article in the New York Times captured the significance of this development: “The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s...

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1. Tsinghua University and the Spirit of Innovation and Entrepreneurialism

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pp. 31-61

Tsinghua University, commonly described as the “MIT of China,” is consistently ranked as one of the two best universities in the nation, along with neighboring Peking University. Most see it as the nation’s top university in terms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The university...

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2. Peking University and the Pursuit of Academic Excellence the “Beida Way”

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pp. 62-89

China’s dramatic economic growth over the past three decades has spurred numerous writers to assert the nation’s return to glory. Using rhetoric that borders on the apocalyptic in some cases, especially with regard to the Western world, books such as Martin Jacques’s When China Rules the World: The End of...

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3. Internationalization of Academic Life and the Changing Face of Renmin University

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pp. 90-123

When significant international economic and political matters related to China arise, it is quite common for news media to turn to the many leading international experts at Renmin University of China (RUC), also known as the People’s University and, colloquially, RenDa. For example, when the United...

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4. China’s Ethnic Diversity and the Critical Role of Minzu University

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pp. 124-154

A striking feature of campus life at Minzu University of China (MUC), also known as Central University for Nationalities (Zhongyang Minzu Daxue in Chinese), is the obvious commitment of the university to ethnic affairs. In addition to the vast diversity of the student body, where roughly 60 percent of the...

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Conclusion: Achievements and Challenges in the Quest to Build Leading Universities

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pp. 155-180

In recent times it seems hardly a day goes by without a new story about one Chinese university or another building academic or research partnerships with foreign universities. At UCLA, home to the lead author of this book, it is virtually impossible to keep track of all the collaborations and partnerships forged...


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pp. 181-186


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pp. 187-198


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pp. 199-200


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pp. 201-206

E-ISBN-13: 9781421414546
E-ISBN-10: 1421414546
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421414539
Print-ISBN-10: 1421414538

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 884725823
MUSE Marc Record: Download for China's Rising Research Universities

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Subject Headings

  • Universities and colleges -- Research -- China.
  • Education, Higher -- Research -- China.
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