The New Silk Road

Chinese researchers during the New Silk Road Seminar in October 2018 at Oxford University.

Implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe

This research project focuses on China’s rise in global higher education. It aims to explore the possible implications of the New Silk Road (or China’s One Belt One Road policy) for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe.

How will these new relationships affect European higher education and research? What types of academic flows and activities emerge along the New Silk Road? How do universities respond? Under which conditions are these activities taking place? Who defines these, and based on what values?

Upcoming events in 2019 - 2020

14 October 2019: 4th New Silk Road research seminar, Harvard Centre Shanghai, China

13 - 15 May 2020: Dissemination Conference at Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover, Germany


Marijk van der Wende and Robert Tijssen (2019) China's Belt and Road Initiative finds new research partners in Europe, Nature Index

Kirby, William C. and Marijk C. van der Wende. The New Silk Road: Implications for higher education in China and the West? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. Special Issue on: China’s New Silk Roads: Connections, Interactions and Consequences. Oxford University Press.

It is time to view China not just as a follower, but also look at its potential role as a global leader in higher education.
(Van der Wende & Zhu, 2015)
Marijk van der Wende
Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende at Harvard University, China Education Symposium, 22 April 2018
Presentations from Seminar Oxford University October 2018
Media Coverage of the New Silk Road project
More events and lectures

19-23 August 2019: New Silk Road Course in Utrecht Summer School, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

9 April 2019: 3rd New Silk Road research seminar, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

Date: Tuesday, June 26 2018
Place: Georg-August University Göttingen, Chinese Studies Department
Speakers:  Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende and prof. Dr. Marcus Düwell
Convenor: Prof. dr. Dominic Sachsenmaier

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018 17.30 - 19.00
Place: Amsterdam University College
Speaker: Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende
Lecture: The New Silk Road 

Date: Tuesday, May 29 2018, 12 noon – 2 pm
Place: WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Institute for Higher Education Management
Speaker: Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende, Lunch Talk (programme)
Convenor: Prof. dr. Barbara Schachermayer-Sporn

A start seminar was organized on 19 March 2018 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The morning programme brought together UU scholars and international experts, with the aim to launch the research network as a platform for collaboration and exchange of relevant scholarly work, to explore contributions to the various areas of inquiry, to set out the path toward joint publications, and discuss opportunities for PhD training. 

The afternoon programme was open to a wider audience. The closing remarks of the start seminar were made by Simon Marginson at Utrecht University on March 19, 2018. You can read them here (pdf).

Project summary
Prof. dr. Simon Marginson, University College Londen, Centre for Global Higher Education

Recent geopolitical events such as Brexit, and the US turning its back on international trade and cooperation, create waves of uncertainty in higher education regarding international cooperation, the free movement of students, academics, scientific knowledge, and ideas. Meanwhile China stands to gain as its universities advance in global visibility.

The growing uncertainties in the West may make China only more successful in its aim to attract talent (back) and to enhance its impact on the global higher education landscape. Its New Silk Road (or One Belt One Road) project could potentially span and integrate major parts of the world across the Euro-Asian continents. But likely on new and different conditions, also for higher education. 

The project aims to explore the possible implications of the New Silk Road for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe, by taking an interdisciplinary approach in collaboration with international partners. Contributions from various partners will be guided by a framework consisting of the following broad areas of inquiry:

New Silk Road areas of inquiry
  • What types of academic flows and activities emerge along the NSR?
  • How do universities respond; what are their rationales and what type of activities do they undertake?
  • Under which conditions are activities taking place, who defines these?
  • Based on what values regarding the mission of the university in society, do we actually understand these values at all?
  • What will be the impact of these developments on the global higher education landscape, and more in particular on the dominant role of the US Higher Education sector in it?
It is crucial to learn to understand China better, both within Europe as well as in the global context.


The project is carried out by an international consortium coordinated by Utrecht University’s Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe).

The New Silk Road - UGlobe - Research Consortium
Partnership with experts from Europe, Asia and the USA

•    Oxford University / University College London (Centre for Global Higher Education), Prof. dr. Simon Marginson.
•    Aarhus University (Centre for Higher Education Futures), Prof. dr. Sue Wright & Dr. Jie Gao
•    Leiden University (Centre for Science and Technology Studies) Prof. dr. Robert Tijssen; (Leiden Asia Center) Prof. dr. Franke Pieke & Dr. Ingrid D’Hooghe
•    National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Prof. dr. Isak Fromin
•    Georg-August University Göttingen (Chinese Studies Department), prof. dr. Dominic Sachsenmaier
•    Vienna University for Economics and Business (Institute for Higher Education Management), Prof. dr. Barbara Sporn

•    Shanghai Jiao Tong University, (Graduate School of Education), Prof. dr. Nian Cai LIU, Dr. Jiabin Zhu, Dr. Zhuolin Feng
•    Hong Kong University (Faculty of Education and the Consortium for Research on Higher Education in Asia, CHERA), Prof. dr. Gerry Postiglione & Prof. dr. Rui Yang.
•    Hiroshima University (Research Institute for Higher Education), Prof. dr. Futao Huang
•    Tsinghua University (Faculty of Humanities), Dr. Zheping Xie 

•    Harvard University (Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies), Prof. dr. William Kirby (Harvard Center Shanghai) Dr. Yi Wang
•    UC Berkeley (Centre for Studies in Higher Education), Dr. John Douglass