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Exploring the diverse motivations of transnational higher education in China: complexities and contradictions

Hou, Junxia; Montgomery, Catherine; McDowell, Liz


Junxia Hou

Catherine Montgomery

Liz McDowell


This article analyses the current situation of transnational higher education (TNE) in China by conducting a comprehensive documentary analysis. It first situates the phenomenon in global transnational mobility in higher education and then explores the diverse motivations of importing and exporting countries taking China and the UK as linked examples. The documentary analysis carried out for this research suggests that China has stated aims to promote TNE as a public good, whereas UK motivations for transnational education are ostensibly more driven by financial reasons. The article also identifies three features of the current situation in China: first showing that the distribution of the TNE in China is imbalanced; second, partner institutions are based in 21 economically developed countries or regions; third, the prominent cooperative arrangements are strongly focused in particular disciplines. The article argues that these features have led to unfair competition in some areas. Therefore, it appears that there are some inconsistencies and tensions between the stated aims of Chinese TNE policy and the way in which TNE is spreading and developing in practice.


Hou, J., Montgomery, C., & McDowell, L. (2014). Exploring the diverse motivations of transnational higher education in China: complexities and contradictions. Journal of education for teaching : JET, 40(3), (300-318). doi:10.1080/02607476.2014.903028. ISSN 0260-7476

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2014
Publication Date May 27, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 11, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 11, 2016
Journal Journal of education for teaching
Print ISSN 0260-7476
Electronic ISSN 1360-0540
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 3
Pages 300-318
Keywords Transnational higher education; Chinese higher education policy; Transnational mobility
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of education for teaching on 04/04/2014, available online: