The results of this project will be published as: China and Europe on the New Silk Road. Connecting Universities Across Eurasia. Edited by Marijk van der Wende, William C. Kirby, Nian Cai Liu, and Simon Marginson. Oxford University Press (2020).

Publications & More


Anthony Welch (2019), ‘Australia’s China Question‘, International Higher Education

Stijn van Deursen and Henk Kummeling (2019), ‘The New Silk Road: a bumpy ride for Sino-European collaborative research under the GDPR?’,  The International Journal of Higher Education Research

Marijk van der Wende and Robert Tijssen (2019), ‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative finds new research partners in Europe‘, Nature Index

William Kirby and Marijk van der Wende (2019), ‘The New Silk Road: Implications for higher education in China and the West?‘, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society

China and Europe on the New Silk Road

Connecting Universities Across Eurasia


Edited by Marijk van der Wende, William C. Kirby, Nian Cai Liu, and Simon Marginson

The global order, based on international governance and multilateral trade mechanisms in the aftermath of the Second World War, is changing rapidly and creating waves of uncertainty. This is especially true in higher education, a field increasingly built on international cooperation and the free movement of students, academics, knowledge, and ideas. Meanwhile, China has announced its plans for a “New Silk Road” (NSR) and is developing its higher education and research systems at speed. In this book an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars from Europe, China, the USA, Russia, and Australia investigate how academic mobility and cooperation is taking shape along the New Silk Road and what difference it will make, if any, in the global higher education landscape.

Opening chapters present the global context for the NSR, the development of Chinese universities along international models, and the history and outcomes of EU-China cooperation. The flows and patterns in academic cooperation along the NSR as they shape and have been shaped by China’s universities are then explored in more detail. The conditions for Sino-foreign cooperation are discussed next, with an analysis of regulatory frameworks for cooperation, recognition, data, and privacy. Comparative work follows on the cultural traditions and academic values, similarities, and differences between Sinic and Anglo-American political and educational cultures, and their implications for the governance and mission of higher education, the role of critical scholarship, and the state and standing of the humanities in China. The book concludes with a focus on the “Idea of a University”; the values underpinning its mission, shape, and purpose, reflecting on the implications of China’s rapid higher education development for the geo-politics of higher education itself.


14 May 2020


The New Silk Road in time of global pandemic: changing views on academic cooperation between China and the West?

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Online panel discussion with:

Marijk van der Wende (Utrecht University), William Kirby (Harvard University), Simon Marginson (University of Oxford), Dominic Sachsenmaier (University of Göttingen), Nian Cai Liu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Gerard A. Postiglione (The University of Hong Kong) and Anthony Welch (University of Sydney)

Principle investigators of the international research project on “The New Silk Road: implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe”, discuss how the main trends and issues in collaboration between China and the West, as concluded from this study, may be affected by Corona impact. Which trends in academic cooperation with China will be sustained, enhanced, rebalanced, delayed, or even reversed? And what is most at stake in the changing geopolitical order: international collaboration, competition, trust, open science, globalization as such?

They also provide a preview of the book “China and Europe on the New Silk Road: Connecting Universities across Eurasia”, to be published by Oxford University Press and launched at the long-awaited dissemination seminar at Herrenhausen Palace (Hanover, Germany) which had to be postponed due to Corona-related circumstances.

25 November 2020

WU Vienna.

The New Silk Road: implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe

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Date: 25 November 2019, Institute for Higher Education Management (D5)

Speaker: Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende, Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Title:The New Silk Road: implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe

Recent geopolitical events such as Brexit and the US turning its back on international trade and cooperation create waves of uncertainty in higher education regarding international cooperation, the free movement of students, academics, scientific knowledge, and ideas. Meanwhile China is launching new global initiatives with its New Silk Road (or One Belt One Road) project, which could potentially span and integrate major parts of the world across the Euro-Asian continents. But likely on new and different conditions, also for higher education.

How will the NSR affect European higher education and research? What types of academic flows and activities emerge along the NSR, how do universities respond, under what conditions are these activities taking place, who defines these, based on what values, and do we actually understand these values at all? What will be the impact of these developments on the US HE sector and its role in the global HE landscape?

The project is carried out by an international consortium coordinated by Utrecht University’s Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe).

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