The New Silk Road

Dr. Jie Gao, Aarhus University, Centre for Higher Education Futures

Implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe

This research project focuses on China’s rise in global higher education and research and development.

More in particular, it aims to explore questions around 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 lectures and project events
Marijk van der Wende
Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende at Harvard University, China Education Symposium, 22 April 2018

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

Date: Tuesday, May 29, 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

Date: Tuesday, June 26
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

Media coverage of the New Silk Road project

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)
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 New Silk Road (NSR) will carry more than consumer goods alone. As in previous historical periods (notably the 16th and 17th century), people, ideas, and knowledge will travel along with mutual influence.
  • China’s rise is among the most important geo-political trends that will characterize the (early) 21st century. And like all previous major geopolitical trends and events have impacted international cooperation in higher education (for better or for worse), this can also be expected to be a result of the NSR.
  • Moreover, the size of China’s higher education and R&D system and the speed at which it develops both to global standards, will affect that of its regional partners as well that of its global competitors.
It is crucial to learn to understand China better, both within Europe as well as in the global context.

This project will focus on the possible implications of the New Silk Road for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe. On how it affects European higher education and research in particular and the global higher education landscape more generally.

Contributions from various partners will be guided by a framework consisting of the following broad 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?

These questions will be explored by an international consortium coordinated by Utrecht University’s Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe).

The New Silk Road - UGlobe - Research Consortium

In collaboration with a network of international experts from Europe, Asia and the USA.

•    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 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


Start seminar

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).