21 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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CHINA: Major higher education transformation underway

As eyes turn to China and the Olympic Games, a recent study by Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) has found that major transformation of higher education in the emerging power could impact on the global economy and global education structure. The policy brief Higher Educational Transformation in China and its Global Implications highlights recent statistics showing that the number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has increased by about 30% a year since 1999, as well as earlier studies estimating that in two years there will be many more PhD engineers and scientists in China than in the US and 90% of all PhD physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asians living in Asia, most of them Chinese.

CIGI's policy brief, published in June, provides "an overview of Chinese policies in the education sector and finds that the most recent transformation is focused on major commitments to tertiary education. This strategy differs from those of other low-wage economies, which invest heavily in primary and secondary education, and has implications for global trade in both ideas and idea-derived products", it says in a statement.

The extraordinary rise in highly qualified Chinese, the authors argue, flows from factors that include improved access to higher education for rural households, promotion of elite universities and consolidation of other universities to reduce their numbers. According to one of the authors, CIGI Distinguished Fellow John Whalley: "Potential implications for the global education system and global economy are major. If China succeeds by maintaining high growth or initiating new growth by using educational transformation, other countries may follow with higher educational competition between countries as a possible outcome."

Other authors of the policy brief are: Yao Li, PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Western Ontario; Shunming Zhang, professor of economics and finance at Xiamen University in China; and Xiliang Zhao, assistant professor in the Department of Economics as well as the Wang Yanan Institute for Economic Studies at Xiamen University.
Full policy brief on the CIGI site
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