Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Imperatives for Chinese Higher Education in the Age of Globalization1

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Imperatives for Chinese Higher Education in the Age of Globalization1

Article excerpt

The early years of the 21st century have proven to be the most exciting time in the history of international higher education. What is most fascinating about this period is the speed at which the world is changing around us, and the ways in which higher education, among the most conservative of institutions, is being forced to change as well. Countries around the world have risen to the challenges that abound, many of which have been precipitated by globalization. Few countries have responded as robustly as China. This is true on many levels, including the significant expansion of higher-education capacity, international engagement of Chinese universities in terms of collaborative ventures with foreign universities for teaching and research, and hosting of international students in China. As China faces the future, however, there are a number of imperatives the nation must address in order to become a major player in the field of international higher education and secure for itself the intellectual capital necessary to drive innovation and guarantee economic stability and widespread prosperity.

International student mobility is a good indicator of the changes seen within international higher education. In 1995, approximately 1.7 million international students were enrolled at universities in countries other than their own. By 2011, thatfigure had grown tosome 4.3 million such students (Institute of International Education, 2013). In 1995, 47,000 Chinese students were studying in American universities, practically all of them at the graduate level. Today, there are more than a quarter of a million (287,000) Chinese nationals holding student visas in the United States (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2014).

Opportunities for higher education within China have exploded in ways unimaginable a mere 20 years ago. In 1997/1998, 3.4 million Chinese students were enrolled in the formal Chinese higher-education sector ("China-Educational System-overview,"n.d.). By 2011, this figure had grown to 31 million (People's Daily Online, March 11, 2011). Indeed, it is quite common nowadays to see a new campus in the suburbs for practically every old campus in the center of Chinese cities. This reflects the very intentional effort of the Chinese government to educate its citizens, and although the demand for higher education continues to be much greater than the university seats available, great strides continue to be made to bridge this gap.

In the wake of the recession of 2008, there were significant cuts in government funding of education in many states around the United States. Whether these cuts were justified or done to achieve a long-standing agenda under the pretext of the challenges brought on by the recession, globalization requires greater access to education. To the extent that education becomes less affordable, hopes for greater prosperity, peace, and a more sustainable planet become more difficult to achieve. Happily, the trend in many nations, including China, reflects the opposite calculus. Just over the past 20 years, millions of Chinese nationals have been able to access higher education who would otherwise not have been able to take advantage of such opportunities. This has happened because China has invested, and continues to invest, billions of yuan in higher education. Hundreds of thousands more Chinese travel to other countries to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. Indeed, onethird of all international students currently enrolled at colleges and universities within the United States are from China (Newman, 2014). China has also made it a priority for its university faculty to learn as much as they can about their disciplines in other countries, providing scholarships for thousands of university faculty members to spend periods of time collaborating with their colleagues in other countries and learning about approaches to pedagogy in their respective disciplines. In a globalized world, not only do we have to become more committed to education, but we must ensure that the education we provide is of a global character. …

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