Striving for survival and success: Chinese private higher education in the twenty-first century

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: This general review paper aims to examine the special features of Chinese private higher education institutions (HEIs), discuss the challenges that Chinese private HEIs face, and explore what is needed for the further development of Chinese private higher education. Design/methodology/approach: The paper takes the form of a general review and comparison. Findings: Specifically, Chinese private higher education is characterized by volatile development that is easily affected by government policy inconsistencies. Today's private higher education faces serious challenges, including perceived low quality and low reputation, fierce competition within the private sector, and with the public sector and international forces, and difficulties in recruiting students. To facilitate the further development and improvement of Chinese private higher education, it is crucial to have a mature and stable education policy-making process that involves multiple stakeholders, to provide substantive government support, and to establish a quality assurance system. Originality/value: Chinese private higher education has experienced both unprecedented rapid growth and significant fluctuations in the last three decades, and is now facing serious challenges to its further development. Some of these challenges are common for private higher education worldwide, while some are unique to China. By focusing on these challenges, this paper probes the fundamental questions about the nature of private higher education, examines the role it plays in the process of modernizing developing countries, identifies the major obstacles that private higher education faces, and explores how these obstacles can be overcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalOn the Horizon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Challenges
  • China
  • Government support
  • Policy-making
  • Private higher education
  • Quality assurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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