Diversifying Funding Sources for Public Higher Education in China during Massification





higher education finance; public higher education; funding sources; massification; China


China has provided the world with a new distinctive higher education financing model that emerged out of its unique socio-political conditions. This article investigates the fluctuation of revenue sources during the process of China’s higher education massification. Based on abundant data from Chinese official yearbooks and an extensive analysis of policy documents, the article explores the changes in each revenue source of Chinese public universities. It concludes that as Chinese higher education expanded, its financial system shifted from a single funding channel that relies solely on government to various funding channels. Of these, government funding and tuition together provide the largest share of revenue for public higher education. The proportion of funding derived from entrepreneurial activities, philanthropy and donations is increasing, but still relatively low. The article reveals that the operating revenue of public higher education still depends largely on government funding, which reflects Chinese wisdom about the relationship between government and the market. In China, the diversification of funding sources is closely linked to higher education governance reform. On the whole, cost-sharing means that more market-related fundraising mechanisms and stakeholders are brought into higher education.


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Author Biographies

Shuhua Liu, Zhejiang University

Shuhua Liu is Associate Professor of Comparative Education and Vice Director of the Center for International Education Research at Zhejiang University, China. Her research interests include higher education finance, governance and internationalization in BRICs countries. Recent books include Higher Education Decentralization in Russia since 1991(2010), Research on Russian Education Strategies (2014), University Governance Model and its Operational Mechanism (2017). And she has published a series of papers on Higher Education, Journal of Higher Education (China), Comparative Education Review (China), Studies in Foreign Education (China), China Higher Education Research (China) and etc..

Xuechun Chen, Zhejiang University

Xuechun Chen was born in Hubei Province, China. She obtained her master degree from the College of Education, Zhejiang University. Her research interest lies in higher education accountability, diversification of funding sources in higher education and equity in education.

Enhao Wang, Yunan Academy of Educational Sciences

Enhao Wang received his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy at Northwestern University, Evanston, USA. His research interests include international education, American higher education, higher education administration, education and sociology, and higher education finance.

Xuyan Wang, Hangzhou Normal University

Xuyan wang receieved her Ph.D. in Education from the College of Education, Zhejiang University. During her Ph.D. candidate period, she studied at the Graduate School of Education and Information studies of University of California, Los Angeles for one year. She is currently an assistant professor at Department of Development and Reform of Hangzhou Normal University. She has published a series of papers related to higher education and comparative education on China Higher Education Research, Journal of East China Normal University (Educational Sciences), Studies in Foreign Education and etc..




How to Cite

Liu, Shuhua, Xuechun Chen, Enhao Wang, and Xuyan Wang. 2020. “Diversifying Funding Sources for Public Higher Education in China During Massification ”. Education As Change 24 (September):26 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/1947-9417/7158.



Received 2019-12-12
Accepted 2020-07-09
Published 2020-09-10