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Pringle, Tim and Woodman, Sophia (2022) 'Between a rock and a hard place: academic freedom in globalising Chinese universities.' The International Journal of Human Rights, 26 (10). pp. 1783-1802.

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This article examines academic freedom in China amid the tensions within a marketised global political economy of knowledge production. Joining the global competition for hegemony in the ‘knowledge economy’, the Chinese authorities signalled an acceptance of the ‘rules of the game’, even though these have the potential to undermine domestic political control. Global (as opposed to national) rankings of universities were actually initiated in China, and Chinese universities are competing for status. Likewise, China has created space for marketised higher education institutions and increasingly collaborates with global commercial publishing platforms, while academics there are under growing pressure to publish in globally ranked journals. The dynamic authoritarianism pursued under Xi Jinping has exacerbated the tensions inherent in these differing imperatives. The Xi era has witnessed declines in university autonomy; growing content-related restrictions in teaching, research and publishing including extending these to global firms; and increased distrust of research collaborations with ‘foreigners’. We focus here on a central support for academic freedom: institutional and individual autonomy, showing how threats to autonomy in Chinese universities are related to two different types of authoritarianism: party control and managerialism. We also point to areas of tension between internationalisation of Chinese higher education and authoritarian impulses.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Academic freedom, China, censorship, institutional autonomy, business university
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 1744053X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 23 May 2022 09:07

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