The rise of higher education and science in China.

Liang Zhang, Liang Sun, Wei Bao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Purpose - This chapter provides a thorough historical overview of policies that have governed and guided scientific research in China since 1949 and illustrates changes in scientific publications that accompanied these policy reforms and programs. Design - We divide this historical period into four stages, each with distinct R&D policies: (1) 1949-1955, a period of socialist transformation; (2) 1956-1965, a period of struggle for higher education and research development in a rapidly changing political environment; (3) 1966-1976, the lost decade of the Cultural Revolution; and (4) 1976-present, a period when major national policies have significantly promoted scientific research in China. We use the SPHERE project's comprehensive historical dataset based on Thomson Reuters' Web of Science and data from a set of research universities in China to analyze changes in scientific publication rates concurrent with these policy reforms and programs. Findings - The analysis suggests a tight connection between national policy and scientific research productivity in higher education. The central government controlled scientific research through direct administration in early periods and has guided research activities through funding specific programs in recent decades. Due to their resource dependency on the central government, higher education institutions have been quite responsive to the common goals set by the central government. As a result, what is measured tends to be accomplished. Originality/value - The chapter provides an in-depth description about the rise of higher education and science in China and produces recommendations for future development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives on Education and Society series
Subtitle of host publicationThe Century of Science
EditorsJustin J.W. Powell, David Baker, Frank Fernandez
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEmerald Books
StatePublished - 2017


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