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Policy decoupling in strategic response to the double world-class project: evidence from elite universities in China

Song, J; Chu, Z; Xu, Y; (2021) Policy decoupling in strategic response to the double world-class project: evidence from elite universities in China. Higher Education , 82 pp. 255-272. 10.1007/s10734-020-00642-y. Green open access

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Abstract

Creating world-class universities (WCUs) has recently become a significant policy and practice in higher education in China under the Double World-Class Project. However, some negative effects have encouraged decoupling from the policy goals. To identify the reasons, we conducted policy document analysis and purposive interviews at three elite universities, focusing on financial funding, discipline development, and human resources. First, the uneven funding plans by central and local governments shape non-competitive environments for universities, hindering the dynamic adjustment of the Double World-Class Project. Second, universities have closed or merged programs in weak academic disciplines to gain legitimacy and stability in conformance to WCU guidelines. Last, as a result of the unbalanced development of universities in east, middle, and west China, universities in the west are facing a serious brain drain. To achieve a higher level of performance, an increasing number of ‘shadow academics’ are being recruited by Chinese universities. These decoupling responses and manipulative strategies result from the dominating constituent in WCUs, ambiguity in policy contents, hierarchical control systems in higher education, and uncertain environments for universities.

Type: Article
Title: Policy decoupling in strategic response to the double world-class project: evidence from elite universities in China
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10734-020-00642-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00642-y
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: World-class universities, Decoupling, Constituents, Control, Context
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10111542
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