Developing Community Education: A New Model of Community Colleges in Mainland China

  • Yi Leaf Zhang
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


The American community college model has been gradually adopted by other countries in the world. In recent years, for instance, a growing number of institutions with a title “community college” were established across mainland China. Different from higher professional and technical colleges, most of these community colleges were built upon a well-established system of Radio and Television Universities. This chapter provides an overview of this new model of community colleges in China, how it has been developed, and challenges and opportunities that these institutions are facing as they continue evolving.


Community college China Radio and Television University Community education Lifelong learning 


  1. Cai, Miao. 2008. Preliminary study of development of community college in China. Journal of Jimei University 9 (3): 51–52.Google Scholar
  2. Cai, Yuzhuo. 2013. Chinese higher education: The changes in the past two decades and reform tendencies up to 2020. In China and Brazil: Challenges and opportunities, ed. L.C. Ferreira and J.A.G. Albuquerque, 91–118. Campinas: Anablumme.Google Scholar
  3. China Open Education. n.d. Introduction to the central radio and television universities. Retrieved from
  4. Cohen, Arthur M., Florence B. Brawer, and Carrie B. Kisker. 2014. The American community college, 6th ed. San Francisco: Wiley.Google Scholar
  5. Ding, Xingfu. 1998, April. Evaluation of distance teaching universities: Chinese perspectives and experiences. Keynote address at the International Open and Distance Education Symposium, Shanghai.Google Scholar
  6. Ding, Xingfu, Xiaoqing Gu, and Zhiting Zhu. 2005. Chapter 6: The Chinese approach. In Perspectives on distance education: Lifelong learning & distance higher education, ed. C. McIntosh, 63–78. Vancouver/Paris: Commonwealth of Learning/UNESCO.Google Scholar
  7. Elsner, Paul A., George R. Boggs, and Judith T. Irwin. 2008. Global development of community colleges, technical colleges, and further education programs. Washington, DC: Community College Press, American Association of Community Colleges.Google Scholar
  8. Fan, Xuanwei. 2015. Exploring models of community education in Zhengzhou: A case study of Zhengzhou Community College. Journal of Henan Radio & TV University 28 (4): 8–13.Google Scholar
  9. Fleishman, Shannon S., and Yuan Luo. 2013. China’s top-up policy and the role of community college-like institutions in educational expansion. Research in Comparative and International Education 8 (2): 119–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao, Hongbo, and Jianfeng Zhang. 2012. Ways of developing community colleges in China: Case study of Nantong community college. Continuing Education 9 (202): 27–29.Google Scholar
  11. Hagedorn, Linda S., and Yi L. Zhang. 2011. The use of agents in recruiting Chinese undergraduates. Journal of Studies in International Education 15 (2): 186–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hu, Nan B., Don Watkins, Tzu-ping Shao, Lynn Belaief, and Frank Kehl. 1996, August. Planning and developing community colleges in China. Paper presented at the conference “Toward the 21st century: The trends in world education development and China’s education reform”, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  13. Jiang, Kai. 2010, November 30. Building a stronger higher education system: China’s ambition. Inside Higher Education. Retrieved from
  14. Keegan, Desmond. 1996. Foundations of distance education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Kong, Xiangping, and Michael Gimmestad. 1999. U.S. community colleges and China’s counterpart institutions. Community College Review 27 (3): 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li, Yawin, and Jikun Chen. 1999. Comparative research into Chinese conventional and television-based higher education. Open Learning 14 (2): 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Liu, Yao. 2008. The present situation, problems and countermeasures of community colleges of China. Fudan Education Forum 6 (2): 42–47.Google Scholar
  18. Liu, Chunzhao. 2013. Study on development of community college in China based on lifelong learning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, China University of Mining and Technology, Beijing.Google Scholar
  19. McCormick, Robert. 1992. Distance higher education in the People’s Republic of China. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Open University, Beijing.Google Scholar
  20. Min, Weifang. 2004. Chinese higher education: The legacy of the past and the context of the future. In Asian universities: Historical perspectives and contemporary challenges, ed. P.G. Altbach and T. Umakoshi, 53–84. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ministry of Education of the Peoples’ Republic of China (MOE). 1988. The general provisions for radio and television universities. Retrieved from
  22. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (MOE). 1999. Statistical Communique on national educational development in 1998. Retrieved from
  23. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (MOE). 2016. Statistical Communique on national educational development in 2015. Retrieved from
  24. Open University of China (OUC). 2014. The first group of RTVUs that were selected as community education experimental centers. Retrieved from
  25. Open University of China (OUC). 2015. Announcement of the second group of selected community education experimental centers (base). Retrieved from
  26. Open University of China (OUC). n.d. New-style university. Retrieved from
  27. Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and development (2010–2020). 2010. Retrieved from
  28. Postiglione, Gerard A. 2001. Community college development in China. International Higher Education 23 (Spring): 17–18.Google Scholar
  29. Postiglione, Gerard A. 2009. Community colleges in China’s two systems. In Community college models: Globalization and higher education reform, ed. R.L. Raby and E.J. Valeau, 157–172. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. Postiglione, Gerard A., Liangjuan Wang, and Don Watkins. 2015. Vocational and continuing higher education in China. In Global development of community colleges, technical colleges, and further education programs (revised version): International research/resource guide, ed. P.A. Elsner, G.R. Boggs, and J.T. Irwin, 121–132. Prescott: Paul Elsner & Associates.Google Scholar
  31. Raby, Rosalind L. 2009. Defining the community college model. In Community college models: Globalization and higher education reform, ed. Rosalind L. Raby and Edward J. Valeau, 3–19. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Raby, Rosalind L., and Edward J. Valeau. 2013. Community college global counterparts: Historical contexts. Research in Comparative and International Education 8 (2): 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sun, Guihua. 2005. The role of community colleges in building a learning society. Tianjin Adult Higher Education 2005 (1): 12–16.Google Scholar
  34. Tang, Dengfu, and Shijie Wu. 2008. The participation of radio and TV universities into community education. Journal of Ningbo Radio & TV University 6 (1): 73–75.Google Scholar
  35. Tu, Wei-ming. 1990. The Confucian tradition in Chinese history. In Heritage of China: Contemporary perspectives on Chinese civilization, ed. P.S. Ropp, 112–137. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wang, Yi-shan. 1984. China’s radio and television universities. Prospects 14 (1): 149–157. Scholar
  37. Wei, Runfang. 1997. China’s radio and TV universities and the British open university: A comparative perspective. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED407601).Google Scholar
  38. Wei, Runfang. 2010. China’s radio and TV universities: Reflections on theory and practice of open and distance learning. Open Learning 25 (1): 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wu, Zunmin, and Yuming Chen. 2015. Transforming radio and TV universities into community colleges. Open Education Research 21 (3): 106–112.Google Scholar
  40. Xiao, Junhong. 2008. Teaching English at a distance in China’s radio and television universities. Open Learning 23 (3): 171–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Xu, Jin, and Yue Pan. 2010. A reflection on establishment of the community college in RTVU. Journal of Guangdong Radio & TV University 19 (79): 20–23.Google Scholar
  42. Yu, Kai, Andrea L. Stith, Li Liu, and Huizhong Chen. 2012. Tertiary education at a glance: China. Vol. 24. Global Perspectives on Higher Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Zhang, Yi L., and Linda S. Hagedorn. 2011. College application with or without assistance of an education agent: Experience of international Chinese undergraduates in the US. Journal of College Admission 212: 6–16.Google Scholar
  44. Zhejiang, R.T.V.U. n.d. College review. Retrieved from
  45. Zheng, Qing. 2008. The effective way for the RTVUs to serve the development of community education. Journal of Jiangsu Radio & Television University 2 (19): 29–31.Google Scholar
  46. Zhengzhou Online Learning. n.d. Courses. Retrieved from
  47. Zhou, Jiping. 2010. Function of radio and television universities in developing community college. Journal of Chengdu Institute of Public Administration 2010 (1): 94–96.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Leadership and Policy StudiesUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations