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China and Higher Education Conference 2021



China and Higher Education Conference

Responding to a Changing World - 

Does International Higher Education Still Matter?

#ChinaHE21 Call for Papers



Conference Theme


Internationalization of higher education in and outside of China continues to face unprecedented challenges, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following campus closures in many countries, immediate concerns in the international higher education sector focused on issues such as financial instability (IAU, 2020) and (im)mobility of international students (Mok et al., 2021). China was placed at the forefront of such discussions due to the country’s status as both a leading source country for international students (OECD, 2021) and significant host of international students from other countries (Wen & Hu, 2019).


Yet, questions about the role of China and international higher education were raised well before the current global health crisis. For example, Chinese students have increasingly questioned the value of an international higher education degree (Huang & Turner, 2018). Scholars have similarly argued that the value and benefits of international higher education unevenly impact different social groups (Rizvi, 2019). Mobility in particular has been given a spotlight in this debate, considering the tendency for elite, privileged groups to have the greatest opportunities to be internationally mobile (Brooks & Waters, 2011).  Many in the field of international higher education believe a broad-based crisis for global higher education is emerging; one major consequence is intensifying inequality in the post-pandemic period. Other scholars have questioned how the sector might respond moving forward into a ‘post-mobility world’ (White & Lee, 2020).


Last year, our #ChinaHE focused on ‘uncertain futures’ and the ways that uncertainty underpinned much of the experiences in higher education in the immediate post-pandemic period. In this year’s #ChinaHE21 conference, we seek to shift attention towards how the sector has and will continue to respond to the wide range of challenges that have been previously outlined. Against this broader socio-political context, the conference will critically reflect upon the future trends and developments of China and international higher education. More specifically, this conference will focus on issues related to how the current global health crisis affects the motivations and patterns of international student and academic mobility, to and from China, and the future of China’s role in international higher education. In addition, the #ChinaHE21 conference will provide a platform for global scholars to exchange and discuss different perspectives, and offer an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation. In particular, this cooperation well demonstrates the efforts in academia to pursue the Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG17): Partnerships for the Goals. Scholars from worldwide share different visions on the role of higher education against the COVID-19 pandemic and changing world to realize equal and quality education. 



Format of the Conference


This conference is free and will take place fully online between 6 and 10 December 2021. This will be the second year that we are hosting the conference wholly online, due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and the current uncertainties of international travel.


We anticipate sessions to take place for approximately 5 hours per day, mostly between the hours of 8:00 and 14:00 GMT (or 16:00 and 22:00 GMT+8), with one plenary session each day. We have designed this conference to allow for flexible attendance to accommodate different personal circumstances and schedules. You can join sessions of interest to you throughout the week. Sessions will be recorded for those unable to attend live, subject to speaker agreement. The full schedule will be released once all presenters have been confirmed.


Please check our website: for updates on #ChinaHE21 and for information on our previous events.



Submission Guidance


You are invited to contribute to this conference in two formats (outlined below). We welcome contributions from around the world and support the inclusion of early career researchers.


  • Research presentation: Authors may submit an abstract for an empirical or theoretical paper related to the conference theme. Research papers should be in advanced stages and outline completed (or nearly completed) work from those at any career level. Please submit a title and abstract of up to 300 words for consideration.
  • Research Poster Session: This year we would like to invite authors with works in progress to join our research poster session. We particularly encourage early career researchers to contribute to this session. This will consist of short presentations of a research poster (1 slide). Please submit a title and short abstract of up to 150 words and state in your submission that it is for the poster session.


Successful abstracts should clearly relate to the conference theme of responding to a changing world. You should also include your name as you wish to be included in the schedule and any affiliating universities or organisations. Abstracts should be sent to [email protected]


Deadline: 30 June 2021



Organising Team


#ChinaHE21 will be the 4th annual conference in the China and Higher Education Series. This year, the China and Higher Education Network at The University of Manchester (UK) will be collaborating with Lingnan University (Hong Kong) to co-host this event online.


Choen Yin (Helen) Chan, Heather Cockayne, Miguel Antonio Lim & Jenna Mittelmeier

The University of Manchester


Joshua Ka-Ho Mok & Weiyan Xiong

Lingnan University