Chapter 4: Transformations of higher education institutions in the Chinese tradition
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China is a particularly significant site for the analysis of relationships between higher education and politics. In the Chinese intellectual tradition, ancient universities were entrusted with training bureaucrats who made imperial rule possible. They were organisms of empire. China’s modern universities were established as Western transplants from the late nineteenth century with little linkage to their indigenous roots. The fundamental differences between Chinese and Western ideas of a university have led to continous conflicts, and China’s unique cultural roots and heritages have greatly constrained the functioning of core Western values that underlie the university. China has failed repeatedly to indigenize the Western concept. This is the bottleneck of China’s higher education development. The central purpose of China’s modern higher education is thus to combine Chinese and Western elements. There is a need to understand the relationship between universities and the state in ancient China, and how Chinese higher education institutions have transformed into their present status. Since the theme has been little documented in the English literature, this chapter addresses it to fill in the gap.

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