The impact of higher education reform on research performance of Chinese universities

Suthathip Yaisawarng, Ying Chu NG*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    To address challenges for the 21st century, the Chinese government initiated a series of higher education reforms to support the open-door policy of China. Part of the education reform involves an allocation of additional funding of US$ 20 billion to a group of 112 universities to strengthen their research capabilities with an ultimate goal for them to become national catalysts for raising Chinese educational standards to world-class quality. The target university group is known as Project 211 universities. Other non-Project 211 universities have not received such resources. This paper is the first to provide rigorous assessment of the impact of the latest higher education reform on the performance of Chinese universities for the period 2007-2009.Evidence from meta-frontier analysis reveals that the reform had intended impact on the Chinese universities in our sample. Project 211 universities, on average, performed better than the non-Project 211 group and managerial inefficiency is the key attribute of low overall productive efficiency. Unlike Project 211 universities, non-Project 211 universities have limited access to the best available technology. However, the Malmquist productivity index suggests that Project 211 universities experienced more severe productivity regress than non-Project 211 universities. Our mixed evidence may reflect economy-wide conditions and warrant further research. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the higher education reforms should be broadened to allow non-Project 211 universities to compete with Project 211 universities for additional financial support required to enhance their research capability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)94-105
    Number of pages12
    JournalChina Economic Review
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Finance
    • Economics and Econometrics

    User-Defined Keywords

    • China
    • Education reform
    • Malmquist index
    • Meta-frontier
    • Productive efficiency


    Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of higher education reform on research performance of Chinese universities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this