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Opening-up as entrepreneurial internationalisation in Chinese higher education

Zhou Zhong (Institute of Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

International Journal of Comparative Education and Development

ISSN: 2396-7404

Article publication date: 29 July 2021

Issue publication date: 6 August 2021




This study describes and elucidates higher education internationalisation with an in-depth case study of China and its Tsinghua University using international entrepreneurship concepts. The study examines internationalisation as a dynamic reciprocal interplay between opening-up policy and higher education policy, especially world-class university policy.


This is a qualitative mixed-method single case study. In desktop research, the study reviewed China's national policy documents on educational opening-up, Tsinghua's institutional strategy papers and research literature concerning internationalisation, entrepreneurship, Chinese higher education and Tsinghua University. In fieldwork research, the present researcher engaged in action, participatory and collaborative research about university internationalisation in her capacity as both a faculty and an international office administrator at Tsinghua.


Entrepreneurial internationalisation in Chinese higher education has served multiple purposes simultaneously: (1) a pillar to support domestic confidence in educational opening-up for modernisation while also contributing to global development; (2) a cost-effective way to cultivate Chinese talent by accessing the international education market; (3) a quality imperative to stimulate domestic reform and innovation through Sino-foreign exchange and collaboration; (4) a public diplomacy measure building a global network of educational engagement; and (5) a differentiation strategy to stretch the capacity of the nation's top universities by benchmarking their global competitiveness.


Conceptualising opening-up as entrepreneurial internationalisation is key to understand China's higher education development. This study expounds this special term by connecting it with basic concepts in international entrepreneurship research. The analyses at system and institutional levels reinforce one another to forge a synthetic view by integrating policy and practice.



Funding: China Ministry of Education Humanities and Social Sciences Fund (19YJA880093) and Beijing Social Science Foundation (17JYA002).


Zhong, Z. (2021), "Opening-up as entrepreneurial internationalisation in Chinese higher education", International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 175-192.



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