New “Startups” in a Rigid Higher Education System: China’s Young Elite Institutions

Hantian Wu


This article focuses on three young, small-scale elite institutions in mainland China,
established during the last decade: SUSTech, ShanghaiTech, and Westlake Institute
for Advanced Study, the foundation of the future Westlake University. By analyzing
the similarities and differences between these institutions in terms of development
strategies, funding models, and admission policies, it discusses whether the
establishment of such young elite institutions can be regarded as a bottom-up
innovation in Chinese higher education or a new utilitarian choice made by municipal
governments and higher education practitioners.


Westlake University; ShanghaiTech; SUSTech; elite university; China

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