The rise of transnational higher education and changing educational governance in China

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

International Journal of Comparative Education and Development

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Authoritarian liberalism, Regulatory regime, Market accelerationist state, Regulatory regime, State-corporatist regulatory regime, Transnational higher education


Purpose: Although the existing literature indicates the strategy of decentralization adopted by the Chinese government has permitted the introduction of transnational higher education (TNHE) into mainland China at its very beginning in the 1980s, relatively little research has been conducted to explore the effects of the ensuing-released policies on the development of TNHE after then, especially at institutional level. The purpose of this paper is to fill this research gap by presenting data/information about recent development of TNHE in China and analyzing teachers’/students’ perceptions of autonomy enjoyed by the newly emerging cooperation type, Sino-foreign cooperation universities. Design/methodology/approach: Based upon the purposive sampling method, we chose University A and B as case studies in this research to ensure the representativeness, since they cooperate separately with the major exporters of TNHE in China. In addition, key informants and snowball sampling were adopted to select our respondents. In total 5 administrative staff and 12 students were interviewed to evaluate their working/ learning experience there. The detailed information about the interviewees are listed as Appendix. Findings: The fieldwork conducted in 2014 and 2015 reveals the governance model toward Sino-foreign cooperation universities could be categorized as predominantly decentralized. Specifically, the authors listed the most obvious aspects showing the different level of autonomy enjoyed by different cooperation types below: the internal administrative structure, the enrollment capacity, the criteria of admission and the quality assurance method. Originality/value: This paper critically explores how local education bureaus regulate these TNHE programs in general and monitor the operation of the overseas university campuses being founded in China in particular. In addition, this paper also reports the field interviews with faculty members and students, particularly their evaluation of working/learning experiences in the field of TNHE. Most important of all, this paper critically reflects upon the changing educational governance and explores what regulatory regime could better conceptualize the changing state-TNHE relations in China.





Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Mok, K. H., & Han, X. (2016). The rise of transnational higher education and changing educational governance in China. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 18(1), 19-39. doi: 10.1108/IJCED-10-2015-0007