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Modernizing China's Tertiary Education Sector: Enhanced Autonomy or Governance in the Shadow of Hierarchy?

  • Hu Jian (a1) and Frank Mols (a2)


The Chinese government has acknowledged that in order to turn Chinese universities into world class institutions, it will have to grant them a greater degree of autonomy. However, the reforms that have been introduced to achieve this goal run counter to a long tradition of central government oversight. The question now presenting itself is how much actual control government has devolved to universities. The qualitative evidence presented in this paper, obtained through interviews with university presidents and Party secretaries, not only confirms that, as one might expect, Chinese universities continue to operate “in the shadow of hierarchy,” but also and more importantly that formal efforts to devolve authority are being rendered ineffective by informal pressures and control mechanisms. Discussion reflects on the state of play in Chinese public administration studies, and urges public policy researchers examining devolution in China to account for both formal reforms and everyday “lived experiences.”

中国政府认识到要创建世界一流大学需要给大学授予一定程度自主权, 但是为实现这一目标的改革与中国传统的政府治理模式背道而驰, 这里呈现的问题是政府到底授予大学多大的自主权?本论文采访了目前在职的中国大学校长和党委书记, 基于这些质性数据我们判定中国大学不但仍然行驶在统治阶级的阴影下, 而且更为重要的是即使形式上政府有授权也被实际上大学行政层面非正式的压力和控制机制所抵消。最后讨论反思了中国公共治理研究目前的状态, 同时我们鼓励目前中国公共政策的研究者研究中国政府给管辖机构授权时要把正式的改革和相关行政官员每天鲜活的治理活动都考虑进去。


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