Institutional changes in Chinese higher education and their implications

Qin, Dan (1995) Institutional changes in Chinese higher education and their implications. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

From the beginning of the twentieth century, Chinese higher education has experienced successive experiments with, and abandonment of, Japanese, German, American, Russian, and Chinese revolutionary structures of educational institutions. Each structure was fundamentally different from the previous one. -- In this study, this phenomenon is examined by using a conceptual framework of educational change and reform, synthesized and developed by the author, drawing mainly from the work of Fullan (1991), Hargreaves (1991), and Ginsburg (1991). Within this framework, Fullan (1991) contends that educational change is essentially a political and cultural process. The political orientation of educational change imparts more power to educational reform, but simultaneously produces unrealistic expectations, simplistic solutions, misdirected efforts, and inconsistencies. Fullan also maintains that the culture is a crucial part of educational reform and often decides the success or failure of the reform concerned. Hargreaves (1991) argues that educational change is a means of improving the system's efficiency, effectiveness and quality through professional development. Ginsburg (1991) considers educational reform in the context of economy, ideology and the state. To Ginsburg, educational reform aims at adjusting the educational system to social transactions such as the changes in the economy, the political system and the culture, and is always concurrent with social change dynamics. Ginsburg's equilibrium paradigm maintains that functional integration, harmony, social consensus and stability are the core of social existence. Social development disturbs the harmonious social existence and breaks the consensus. To restore normality, society must restore social consensus through education. Educational reform is therefore a means of social readaptation to both the new national growth and international convergence caused by an upgraded level of development. Ginsburg's conflict paradigm contents that education, as one of the superstructural institutions, is both the site of class conflict and a medium to enhance or resolve the social and economic contradictions. It finds that although the source of social crisis lies in the economic system, education usually become the target of criticism. -- The findings of this study reveal that political, cultural, social, economic and ideological factors combine to play an important role in the frequent changes in Chinese higher education. To be specific, Chinese education presents a specially strong political orientation, partly due to the influence of Confucian values. This orientation and desire for economic development form the major causes of the repeated changes. The ideological ideals of the nation-state are closely correlated with the centralizing or decentralizing approaches to the educational system. The desire for a new national identity in the formation of a nation-state is also a critical cause of the frequent changes. This desire is expressed in different ways during different periods through higher educational institutions. Lastly, the contemporary educational reform is observed undergoing a renewal of the knowledge structure, which seems to promise new social progress in the near future. -- The above findings are contextual and interpretive by nature. A further understanding of the change issues in Chinese higher education can be reached by empirical studies and further studies into the Confucian tradition.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5109
Item ID: 5109
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 124-135.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1995
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: China
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Education--China--History; Education--China--Foreign influences

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