CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The Unintended Political Consequences of Higher Education in the PRC

Allison Carroll Goldman, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Humanities; Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Avery Goldstein

Date of this Version: 05 May 2011



In the past 10 years, China has grown its higher education sector into the largest in the world. At the same time, growing international integration of Chinese institutions means increasing cross-fertilization of ideas across national borders. While the literature on these developments has focused largely on their economic implications, this study asks what they mean politically. In light of current questions regarding political debate and reform in the Chinese Communist Party, this paper suggests new higher education policies may have important unintended consequences for the future of Chinese political development. As Chinese political leaders continue to reform and adapt policies to strengthen CCP legitimacy, they hope elite universities will train a new generation of leaders and advise current decision-making through think tanks and research centers. Once they train people to think critically and independently, however how long can the CCP expect to retain control over the direction of that thinking? Higher education is an uncertain variable. Based on the massive expansion of China’s higher education system, this study suggests it could hold potential for far-reaching unintended consequences.


Comparative Politics | Political Economy

Suggested Citation

Carroll Goldman, Allison, "The Unintended Political Consequences of Higher Education in the PRC" 05 May 2011. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 05 June 2012




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