Sustaining the ecosystem of higher education in China: Perspectives from young researchers




Higher education, Sustainability, Global competition, University ranking, Academic life, China


The sustainable development of higher education in China has been a key priority for the national, social, economic and political development. Responding to the severe competition in various university ranking systems, most universities in China have set aims to enhance their sustainability in research and publication. There has been a prominent conflict that young scholars are expected to be productive, with publications in academic journals, competitive in receiving national and municipal research grants, and prestigious in the national and international arenas, or they will be terminated by the ‘six-year-up-or-out’ policy. Recent reform in higher education that calls for a sustainable development for young researchers is a strategy to revert the side effects from global university ranking systems by nurturing young researchers in their early academic lives, enhancing their productivity in research and publication internationally, and enhancing their global competitiveness without harming sustainability in academic development. This research explored (i) the difficulties that most young scholars face in sustainable academic research development, (ii) the factors that enhance or inhibit research productivity of young researchers, and (iii) the work lives in their early-career development in China. A qualitative study was conducted with data obtained from semistructured, in-depth interviews of 24 young university researchers from three provinces and a municipality in China. Findings show that factors that relate to sustainable research productivity are individual attributes, discipline attributes, institutional attributes and policy attributes. Lastly, suggestions for policy making in higher education and for improving sustainable research development of young researchers in China are provided and implications for future research are discussed.


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Author Biography

Huanchun Chen, East China Normal University, China

Huanchun Chen is PhD candidate, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, East China Normal University (ECNU), Shanghai, China. He specializes in educational policy and evidence-based education.



How to Cite

Chen, H., & Pang, N. (2022). Sustaining the ecosystem of higher education in China: Perspectives from young researchers. Perspectives in Education, 40(3), 95-117.