The rise of China in global science

2nd November 2020 : 17:00 - 18:00

Category: Public Seminar

Research Group: Higher Education

Speaker: Professor Simon Marginson, Department of Education

Location: Online - Microsoft Teams Live

Convener: Steve Strand

Audience: Public



Since 1990, global science has expanded with exceptional dynamism and relations of power within it have shifted markedly.

Grass roots collaborative networks have become established as the main medium of development; Euro-American national science systems have become intensively networked as a global duopoly; and many middle-income countries have built their own national science systems. These include a group of countries that have followed a semi ‘stand-alone’ trajectory, establishing robust national systems based on government investment, national network building and selective international connections, without integrating tightly into the global duopoly. The stand-alone trajectory, which is nationally nuanced and does not comply with Euro-American patterns (and hence is not always understood in the literature on science) has been successfully pursued in all East Asian countries except Vietnam. China, which had almost no presence in global science forty years ago, is now number two science country, number one in areas of STEM physical sciences.

The seminar will investigate developments in China in funding, science paper output, the discipline balance, internationalisation strategy, and national and global networking, explaining how China has successfully combined global activity and local/national activity in positive sum fashion in a strongly nationally-nested science system. It will also discuss limits of the achievement, and note that while China-US relations have been instrumental in building science, a partial decoupling is in prospect.

About the speaker

Simon Marginson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford, Director of the ESRC/OFSRE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education, Professorial Associate of the Melbourne Centre for Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, and Lead Researcher with Higher School of Economics in Moscow. CGHE is a research partnership of five UK and nine international universities with £9 million in funding for 16 projects on global, national and local aspects of higher education in 2015-2023.

Simon’s research is focused primarily on global and international higher education, higher education in East Asia, and higher education and social inequality. He is currently preparing an integrated theorisation of higher education. He Co-Chaired the UK Higher Education Commission Inquiry into Education Exports which reported in 2018. His most recent books are Changing Higher Education for a Changing World, edited with Claire Callender and William Locke (Bloomsbury, 2020) and High Participation Systems of Higher Education, edited with Brendan Cantwell and Anna Smolentseva (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Learn more about Simon here


This seminar will be of interest to: scholars and students of science, of China studies and of higher education and research; university professionals with responsibility for international relations and research; China and East Asia specialists.