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Alexander C. McCormick


As higher education attainment has become increasingly essential for both individual socioeconomic outcomes and the economic competitiveness of nation-states, and as the cost of financing the higher education enterprise continues to rise, university quality has become an urgent concern for students, families, and policy makers around the globe. The widespread interest in assessing university quality manifests itself in the rise of global rankings (Hazelkorn, 2015) and the increasing use of so-called performance indicators by government agencies. This paper focuses on the latter phenomenon. The first part of the paper examines the benefits and limitations of higher education performance indicators as conventionally implemented, and the second part advances a set of suggestions to address these shortcomings by adapting performance systems to represent and incentivize evidence-informed improvement efforts.

Brendan Cantwell


This paper reviews a set of considerations for evaluating academic units in complex universities and higher education systems. Methods of evaluation should match evaluative goals. Assessment should be sensitive to context and recognize the realities of contemporary higher education. Because a one-size-fits-all evaluative regime may be inappropriate, a capabilities-based approach is advanced. The capabilities-based approach focuses on meeting an overall goal of designing higher education systems that meet social demands.

Dirk Van Damme


Globally, higher education is expanding at an unprecedented pace. But two competing forces seem to be at work. The first is globalization: higher education systems are globalizing, especially through international research networks and global rankings which fuel competition on a global scale. Internationally comparable qualification frameworks, credit transfer, internationalization policies and quality assurance and accreditation arrangements work towards globally exchangeable qualifications. But the second force, driving institutions to deliver skills which are relevant for the national and regional economies, works against convergence. The skills equivalents of national qualifications remain very different across countries. The skills agendas, driven by countries’ position in global value chains, drive unequal outcomes. The consequence is that the global higher education system will remain characterized by huge inequalities, which are perceived as quality differences. Higher education policies need to find a balance between integration in the global higher education order and serving the domestic skills needs.

Hamish Coates, Lu Liu and Jinghuan Shi


In this article we introduce the five papers published in this issue of the International Journal of Chinese Education (IJCE). We begin by discussing complexities shaping the analysis of education, then turn to each paper’s nature and contributions. The article concludes by introducing revised IJCE editorial arrangements.

Ida Ah Chee Mok


Recent years have witnessed an increase in research focused on studying on perspectives of Chinese mathematics instructions. The sustained interest is partly due to the outstanding performances of Chinese students in international studies such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (Mullis, et al., 2012) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2010); and partly due to the shared interest in comparative studies of instructional practice across different cultural systems. What have we learned about in mathematics classrooms from international studies? Findings of international studies suggest that how the teacher used the tasks so that the cognitive demand of the learning tasks could be sustained is very important. Despite the good performances of Hong Kong students in international studies, there is a gap between traditional classroom practice and the long established goals for promoting generic capacity in mathematics learning; most of the traditional learning tasks in Hong Kong classrooms are apparently routine and serving a demonstrative purpose as a result of the highly competitive systems. Based on triangulation of the findings of the analysis of the mathematics lessons at different levels, the study shown some robust features in the traditional mathematics teaching practice in Hong Kong classrooms in contrast to some innovative scenarios in a special mathematics lesson. Finally, the author re-examines the robust features in the context of curriculum reforms and the cultural context of Confucian tradition.

Seeram Ramakrishna and Peter Sachsenmeier


Higher Education Evaluation Systems supply information for diverse stakeholders. A “one size fits all” approach in university rankings is not enough. Looking to the future, evaluation may need to take into account criteria such as links with employers, lifelong education, implications of digitization, and interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration across borders. The extensive possibilities of today’s research data based analyses are analysed, against the background of a whole industry devoted to this. Shortcomings, challenges and unintended consequences of the current approach are discussed. Impact analyses are seen as one of the ways forward, taking into account contributions to societies and their transformations. Diversity, “glocal” mindset and international collaboration are suggested as additional criteria for the competitive rankings of the future.

Bringing China to Java

The Oei Tiong Ham Concern and Chen Kung-po during the Nanjing Decade

Peter Post


This paper discusses the paramount role of the Oei Tiong Ham Concern (OTHC) of Semarang in the “Buy Chinese Products” movement of the Republican Government during the period 1928–1937 and its attempts to control Java’s sugar trade with China during the same period. In doing so, the paper focuses on the personal relations between Chen Kung-po (Chen Gongbo), the Republican Minister of Trade and Industry, and the OTHC leadership, as well as the close collaboration between the Dutch-educated Peranakan and Totok Chinese business elites of Java in intensifying economic relations between China and Java. The paper thereby reassesses long-held views about attitudes and economic roles of the Westernized Peranakan Chinese elites and questions the usefulness of simplified political frameworks in analyzing the complex dynamics of intra-Asian trade and commerce in the highly politicized business environment of the 1930s.

Edited by Hong Liu and Min Zhou

Negotiating Diplomacy

Forging Thai-Sino Relations Through Interactive Business Workshops

Kian Cheng Lee (李强正)


This research report argues that non-state actors can negotiate diplomacy by facilitating Thai-Sino bilateral interactions while seeking multi-dimensional win-win benefits. With the rise of People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) transnational entrepreneurship, this research report departs from the conventional “flight” or “fight” approach. On the contrary, it adopts an interventional approach to encourage interactions between PRC Chinese transnational entrepreneurs and Thai entrepreneurs and other interested parties through business-themed workshops. On the one hand, the latter learn about Chinese business cultures in enhancing their entrepreneurial endeavors while gaining new opportunities on the PRC Chinese market. On the other hand, the PRC transnational entrepreneurs extend their business networks while inadvertently transforming themselves into unofficial dual-accredited diplomats. From an intra-Asian perspective, this research report helps to rectify the scarcity of literature, in which existing migrant studies are largely set in North American and European contexts.