Employability and Entrepreneurship of Chinese University Students in the Massification of Higher Education: A Perspective of Agency and Self-Formation

Weiyan XIONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


The massification of China’s higher education has brought university students’ employment issues to the center of educational policy discourse. In order to solve the employment issues, the Chinese government has implemented an application-oriented reform to improve university students’ employability. In this reform, education for innovation and entrepreneurship has been promoted as a significant remedy for the employment issues brought by the massification of higher education. However, its effectiveness still needs investigation. From an agency perspective, entrepreneurship education is self-formation and agency-oriented, which is largely against China’s education practices.

This presentation will take a student-oriented view to examine students’ self-formation in terms of employment. Through a case review on young entrepreneurs’ experiences in Shenzhen, this presentation aims to put forward the arguments on the challenges and future development of university students’ employability-related self-formation in China’s higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022
EventStudent / Graduate Agency and Self-formation: A Hong Kong Symposium -
Duration: 6 Jun 20227 Jun 2022


SymposiumStudent / Graduate Agency and Self-formation: A Hong Kong Symposium
OtherWhat is higher education?

What is the role of students in it?

The existing scholarly literature mostly posits higher education as a place for human capital creation. By contrast, this symposium will draw attention to the active role of students in higher education and emphasise their agency and formation process. Higher education is a process of reflexive self-formation by students.

Agency, defined broadly as the human will and capacity to steer the course of one’s life, is both the condition for self-formation and its outcome. Students work on themselves in higher education in terms of personal development, aspirations, and projects. Students use their agency both during their studentship and after graduation, seeking life opportunities. Therefore, fostering the conditions which maximise the potentials for agentic self-formation is an important task of higher education.

Within higher education, international higher education provides a specific domain to investigate student agency and becoming. Students immerse themselves into novel social, cultural and political contexts through international higher education. This may lead to international students going through a compressed self-formation process, as they interact with the novelties they encounter in the host society.

Against this backdrop, this symposium will bring together esteemed scholars from different parts of the world in East and West and facilitate scholarly discussions on student agency and self-formation in higher education.
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