Public-private partnerships in rural schooling: property-led education in urbanising China

Stream: Chinese social policy: states and markets
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


The launch of China's New Urbanisation Plan (2014–2020) marks a recent wave of policy transformation in the nation’s development. While employing urbanisation as a driving force to maintain fast economic growth, China is also targeting issues caused by previous developmental stage in rural areas, one of which is the declining basic education. In this context, a new model emerges in provision of basic education: local governments procure services from educational contractors, which “franchise” elite schools in areas of rural regeneration projects.

Informed by literatures from the fields of neoliberal governance and property-led development, my research digs deeper into the theory behind the prospering scene of education corporations and addresses two core questions: what are the motivations behind private providers’ rushing into rural education? How has this private involvement influenced rural education?

In order to acquire an in-depth understanding of the mechanism and governance of educational PPPs, the project conducts a qualitative critical case study with a most promulgated educational social enterprise. Based on the data collected in the field and from a wide range of sources – media coverage, real estate advertisements and government reports – the project presents the causal effects among this new model of public education arrangement, local governance of the rural urbanisation process and pattern of gentrification. In particular, I argue and analyse the making of property-led education, an education system which is driven by and serves real estate development.


Yiran Li (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Yiran Li is a PhD candidate at Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. Her PhD project looks at education policies and governance in China’s rural schooling sector. Yiran holds a Master by Research degree in Chinese studies. Her MA research project investigated the effectiveness of China’s school funding mechanism in rural areas, based on which she was recognised with a UNSW Research Excellence Award in 2015 and an Australian Postgraduate Award in 2016.