Education in China’s Greater Bay Area
University Graduate Employability and Entrepreneurship in China’s Greater Bay Area
Speaker - Dr Ewan Wright
Ewan Wright is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education and Human Development at the Education University of Hong Kong. He is also a Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change. He holds a PhD from the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong where he was a recipient of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme. As a sociologist of education, his research focuses on international education, university preparation, and inequality in education. Over the past two years, his research has been published in well-regarded journals such as British Journal of Sociology of Education, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Educational Review, Globalisation, Societies and Education, and Studies in Higher Education.
Speaker - Dr Haitao Wei
Wei Haitao is Assistant Professor at the School of Sociology in Central China Normal University. His PhD is from the University of Hong Kong and his research interests focus on collective action, labor politics, labor process theory and rural society in China.
The Changing Value of Higher Education as a Currency of Opportunity
The worldwide expansion of higher education participation has destabilised the value of higher education as a currency of opportunity. An increasing number of graduates are experiencing the precarity of unemployment, under-employment and low salaries. This study aimed to investigate how university students in China understand and respond to the changing relationship between higher education and career opportunities. The research team conducted 100 in-depth interviews with final-year undergraduates at one elite and one lower-tier university in a metropolitan city in Guangdong. The students were acutely aware of fierce competition in the graduate labour market. When asked “what matters most” for post-graduation career prospects, they identified elite universities and high-status fields of study as “traditional” currencies of opportunity. Nonetheless, to stand out in a competitive environment, they perceived a growing need to supplement higher education credentials through university experiences (internships, student governance, study abroad programmes), party membership, personal connections and (overseas) postgraduate education. Moreover, in a “race to the top”, they discussed how qualitatively distinctive university experiences and elite postgraduate education are “new” currencies of opportunity for high-status professional employment. The study demonstrates how intensified competition for graduate employment can result in an “opportunity trap”. The students were participating in an “arms race” to accumulate positional advantages for their post-graduation careers. The net impact of such efforts on a systemic level is to create an upward spiral in what students are expected to do in preparation for their post-graduation careers and further destabilise the value of higher education as a currency of opportunity.
Speaker - Dr Dian Liu
Dr Dian Liu is currently an Associate Professor at University of Stavanger, Norway. After completing her PhD project at HKU on personal advancement of university graduates in job search, she is now working on graduate entrepreneurship and regional innovation (mainland China and China’s Great Bay Area), as well as internationalization of higher education (in comparison between China and Norway). At the University of Stavanger, she is leading a research group on ‘Education, Work and Social Cohesion’ with colleagues from diverse scientific disciplines. The group addresses research problems in intertwined aspects, such as social and cultural inequality in relation to graduate employment and entrepreneurship, and cross-cultural mobility in working life. Her work has been published in leading academic journals such as Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Journal of Education and Work, and by academic presses such as Routledge and Springer. She has been invited to give keynote talk at Sociological Review Foundation Series in the UK, and for seminars at prestigious universities, such as City University of Hong Kong. Her work has, recently, received ‘Outstanding Young Researcher’ award at her university.