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China and Higher Education: Knowledge diplomacy and the role of HE in Chine...

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The University of Manchester

Oxford Road

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M13 9PL

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China and Higher Education:
Knowledge diplomacy and the role of higher education in Chinese international relations

#ChinaHE19

Conference Theme

Higher education has long been theorised as a form of ‘knowledge diplomacy’ due to its potential to strengthen relationships between countries (Knight, 2015), often through the international mobility of students, staff, and knowledge (Choudaha, 2017; Shin & Kehm, 2013). There is a growing awareness of the impact of knowledge diplomacy on international relations through the higher education sector (Kehm, 2011), particularly in regards to enhanced ‘soft power’ and global reputation management via cultural exchange (Han & Zweig, 2010).

One important example is China, which has developed strong efforts to manage its global reputation through person-to-person diplomacy by encouraging individual understandings of ‘Chinese viewpoints and interest, with knowledge of the Chinese language, society, culture, history, and politics’ (Zhang, 2009, p. 25). A key actor within these efforts is the Chinese higher education sector, which is increasingly viewed as a tool to ‘enhance its international, political, and diplomatic relations’ (Pan, 2013, p. 253). After all, China is the world’s leading source country of international students (OECD, 2018) and has recently become the world’s leading producer of scientific papers (National Science Foundation, 2018). Similarly, China’s recent Belt and Road Initiative policy prominently outlines the expansion of educational exchanges as a key source of diplomacy.

In international higher education discourse, China has been traditionally portrayed as a sending country; there has been an exponential increase in Chinese international students over the last two decades, with over 600,000 estimated to be studying worldwide today (OECD, 2018), making it the largest source country for international students. Yet, there is an emerging narrative of China as a hub for receiving international students (Wen, Hu, & Hao, 2018), poised to meet targets of hosting over 500,000 international students by 2020 (Kennedy, 2018). This growing prominence of China as a provider of international education impacts the assumed ‘status quo’ roles of North America and Europe in knowledge diplomacy. These shifting dynamics give way to macro-level questions related to international relations such as:

  • How does knowledge diplomacy contribute to China’s international relations and soft power development?
  • What is the local and global impact of China’s emerging role as a receiver of international students and provider of international higher education?
  • What is the local and global impact of universities’ growing reliance on Chinese international students worldwide?

Further, considering China’s increased focus on person-to-person diplomacy to support the country’s developing global image through cultural exchange, important micro-level questions related to teaching and learning experiences have also arisen:

  • To what extent do the experiences of international students studying at Chinese higher education institutions develop or inhibit international relations with China?
  • How do relationships between Chinese international students abroad and students from other countries develop or inhibit China’s global cultural image?
  • What factors impact intercultural experiences and international relations both within Chinese higher education providers and for Chinese international students abroad?

In light of the increasing role of higher education in China’s international relations and global soft power, this conference brings together international experts and policymakers to unpack the complex and growing significance of China in the international higher education sector. The conference will approach this topic from the perspective of both China as a provider of international higher education and as a sender of Chinese international students worldwide. Similarly, discussions will focus both on the macro-level, global influence of China as a higher education stakeholder and on the micro-level experiences of students, teachers, and institutions who are impacted by China’s growing knowledge diplomacy.

Submission Guidance

You are invited to just register to attend the conference, however if you would like to contribute to this conference there are two suggested formats (outlined below). Successful abstracts will be considered for inclusion in an edited book that will be developed after the conference. There are also limited travel bursaries (support of up to £150) available for presenters (PhD students and early career researchers).

  • Research paper: Authors may submit an abstract for an empirical or theoretical paper related to the themes outlined above. Research papers should be in advanced stages and outline completed (or nearly completed) work from those at any career level.
  • Work in Progress (WiP) submission: Authors may alternatively submit empirical or theoretical work in progress related to the themes outlined above. WiP submissions are intended for work in earlier stages that have not yet reached completion and can be from those at any career level. Abstracts for WiP submissions should clearly outline 1-2 specific areas in which the author(s) would like to receive feedback from session attendees for further developing their work.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and are due by 31 July 2019. Abstracts should be sent to: ChinaHE@manchester.ac.uk


This conference received funding from the Hallsworth Conference Fund at The University of Manchester.

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The University of Manchester

Oxford Road

Manchester

M13 9PL

United Kingdom

View Map

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