The Chinese Idea of a University

Phoenix Reborn


Rui Yang

ISBN : 978-988-8754-29-8


September 2022

164 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$550.00

In The Chinese Idea of a University: Phoenix Reborn, Rui Yang conceptualizes the cultural foundations of modern university development in Chinese societies. Instead of focusing on the uniqueness of the societies, this book aims to prove that one educational purpose could be fulfilled via many paths, and that most of the characteristics the university could be found in other institutions of higher learning. Citing the practices of four selected Chinese societies, Yang opposes the existence of an impassable chasm between Chinese and Western ideas of a university and argues that it is possible to combine Chinese and Western ideas of a university. Also, this book is one of the first in English to theorize the Chinese idea of a university. It links the historical events to the present, in a context of an enormous impact of Western academic models and institutions, from the beginning of modern universities in Chinese societies to the contemporary period.

Rui Yang is professor and dean of education at the University of Hong Kong. His books include Governance Reforms in Higher Education: A Study of China (2014), Third Delight: Internationalization of Higher Education in China (2002), A Study of the Macro Background of Higher Education Development in China (in Chinese, 1995) and On Contemporary Educational Reforms (in Chinese, 1994). 

“The scholarship is of high quality, based on a thorough critical reading of relevant literature in both English and Chinese, as well as detailed empirical research carried out on the campuses of eight leading universities in the four Chinese societies under consideration.”

Ruth Hayhoe, professor, University of Toronto

“Yang Rui has produced an academic masterwork. China has arrived as a global power and the East Asian university has achieved or largely achieved the long project of catch-up to the West. The future begins now and question of the ‘Chinese idea of a university’ should trigger much discussion. Professor Yang favors the development of hybrid East/West higher education in the Chinese civilizational zone, noting that to an extent, existing universities have taken this path already. He develops these challenging issues with a depth of scholarship far exceeding the current journal papers in the topic area, and a style of exposition that reads really well. A book of lasting importance. Highly recommended.” 

Simon Marginson, professor, University of Oxford; joint editor-in-chief, Higher Education


The China Quarterly