Building a “Double First-Class University” on China’s Qing-Zang Plateau: Opportunities, Strategies and Challenges


Yang Miaoyan & James Leibold

China Quarterly, 244(4), 1140-1159

View article

Abstract: Situated in the broader context of educational aid for Tibet and higher education reform in China, this article examines efforts to develop higher education in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Based on document analyses, observations and interviews, we interrogate the thoughts and actions of university officials in the TAR when responding to the state’s call for the creation of “double first-class” (shuangyiliu 双一流) universities and disciplines. Our study identifies two main strategies adopted by university officials: capitalizing on the plateau’s unique geography and China’s system of preferential ethnic policies. University administrators hope to use the TAR’s unique and strategic location as a springboard for curriculum and research development, while drawing on aid and assistance from the central government and partner universities. We conclude that the future of higher education in the TAR is highly dependent on external assistance and that the region faces an uphill battle in building a truly world-class university.

About the author: Yang Miaoyan was a HYI Chinese Politics Training Program Visiting Scholar from 2018-19.