Education market with the Chinese characteristics: The rise of minban and transnational higher education in China

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the last few decades, the Chinese higher education system has changed considerably from an elitist model to a massified one with public and minban/transnational provisions. Accordingly, this study sets out against the context of higher education expansion initiated in late 1998 to critically examine the major trends of non‐state (including minban and transnational) higher education developments. More specifically, it discusses how minban higher education has transformed and why transnational higher education has evolved and become far more popular in China. Against the marketisation and privatisation of education context, this article focuses on reviewing policy change and university governance to diversify higher education provision through the market forces/non‐state provision. A critical examination of the changing state‐market‐education relationship would enable us to appreciate the complex social, economic and political issues that the Chinese government has to tackle, especially when the country confronts the dilemma of adopting a more liberal approach in reform with the fear of excessive external influences to the political regime or a more conservative approach which would limit the country's further development. The present article contributes to a better understanding of the ‘education market’ formation in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-417
Number of pages20
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

The author wants to thank Ms Quoquo Ke for offering research support when developing/drafting this article. The author also thanks the Lam Man Tsan Chair Professorship Research Fund for supporting the research reported in this article.

The author wants to thank Dr Weiyan Xiong and Ms Yuyang Kang for offering their assistance during the conduct of this research. Special thanks go to the interviewees for sharing their experiences, considering their particular usefulness to the present study. Parts of the materials of the paper are adapted/revised from the author's recent publication in 2019.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • education market
  • internationalisation
  • minban higher education
  • privatisation of higher education
  • transnational higher education


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