China Rising as Higher Education Power

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Keith Burnett, writes in the Times Higher Education that China will take a dominant position in higher education. He appears to be making this statement based on pure size, scale, holding now place for academic practices and campus norms in national systems of higher education. He makes valid points in some cases (china is now the 4th most popular destination for overseas students!).

From Burnett in the Times Higher Education,

If you think of higher education as a global luxury good (as I have heard it described), then you can easily grasp why Chinese families buy a big chunk of the very finest higher education “product”: degrees from UK institutions. And let’s be honest, that demand has been the salvation of many UK universities’ financial bottom lines.

But when you look at the better and fancier options now coming out of China – in everything from next-generation transport to technology – you will see that there are fewer and fewer things they cannot make. This should make us all tremble.

It tells us that our higher education brands will have more and more competition in the years ahead, as China itself sets targets to become a destination for students from across the Belt and Road and beyond.

The UK might have Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and Sherlock on our side, but as public investment in research and teaching falls while China’s rises, our edge can’t last for ever. China, for the record, is now the fourth most popular destination for students studying overseas.

Should US higher education leaders be worried? — they, too, have relied on Chinese students — from PhDs to undergrads (a more recent trend!)… Lets not forget, one of the reasons entrepreneurs have succeeded on campus is because higher education itself is a massive marketplace (from food and fun to books, housing and media products!).

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