British Universities in China: the Reality Beyond the Rhetoric

This is the title of a very interesting recent multi-authored discussion paper of Agora, a British think-tank for higher education. Although the paper is about British universities in China, most of what is said carries over directly to everyone?s globalization efforts worldwide. The director of Agora, Anna Fazackerley, provides a thought provoking introduction that provides an excellent context for the rest of the contributions. She points out the importance to institutions of thinking strategically about their globalization efforts, and having a clear understanding of what they hope to gain from them. She also emphasizes that the Chinese are in complete control of the process in their country, and that it is therefore critical to understand what China itself really wants when it allows foreign universities to enter. As part of the answer to this question, she suggests that "It is becoming apparent that one of the main uses of British universities to China will be their expertise in science and engineering".

The paper contains six contributions from individuals have considerable experience with higher education partnerships in China and throughout Asia.  Their comments are all well thought out, and quite thought provoking.  They point out the positives and negatives of working with China, and describe some of the sources of difficulties. The paper concludes with 3 case studies of different models of UK-China higher education partnerships. One of these is about the Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (Interesting activity at the for-profit/non-profit interface: Laureate, Jan. 14, 2008).  The other two are the University of Nottingham?s Ningbo campus,  and the joint degree program between Queen Mary College, University of London and Beijing University of Posts and Technology. 

All this makes for very interesting and valuable reading.


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