Lehrstuhl für Schulpädagogik



Weixiao Li - Edupreneurs: A Study on For-Profit Education in Mainland China


The for-profit sector is an active, viable and financially successful piece of the landscape of education and assumed to continue growing (Breneman, 2005). “Edupreneurs” or private, for-profit education companies provide desirable and affordable educational products and services for students, or better, customers. At the tertiary level, for-profit higher education is defined “private institution[s] in which the individual(s) or agency in control receives compensation other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of risk” (NCES, 2003). In other words, public higher education and private not-for-profit colleges and universities on the one hand are not entitled to benefit private interests and net earnings cannot be distributed to owners or shareholders (IRS, 2003; Quoted after Kinser, K. & Levy, D.C., 2005, p.6). On the other hand, for-profit institutions set their goal to make a profit for their owners or shareholders (Kinser, 2005). According to John Sperling (1997), For-profit universities offer several advantages over non-profit institutions, among which are the for-profit’s accountability for educational effectiveness, operational efficiency, cost benefits, and the time it takes them to respond to changes in the education needs. Fueled by the trends of internationalization, globalization, commercialization, and privatization in the education sector, for-profit education expands worldwide. This research intends to feature the Chinese echoes to the trend of For-profit education. The purpose of the study is three-fold. To begin with, the author aims to portray the scope and size of Chinese for-profit education sector, and make a tentative classification for “Edupreneurs” operating in Chinese education and training market. Next, the author aims to show the panorama of Chinese for-profit education, looking into the yesterday (causes of the emergence), today (strengths and weaknesses of the operation), and tomorrow (conceptualization of the optimal “Edupreneur”) of Chinese “Edupreneurs”. Last but not least, the researcher proposes to promote educational cooperation between Germany and China. Germany is blessed with excellent educational resources and services, and among one of the most popular destinations for international student mobility. Nevertheless, Germany has been avoiding the private surge, and thus a for-profit surge so far, even when faced with severe budget cuts and funding problems. Is this a voluntary or reluctant rejection, under the current educational system lacking self-management and autonomy? A quest for combining educational provision and consumption between Germany and China will then be incorporated in this study.

Qualitative research methods are used to collect data. The primary source of data comes from semi-structured interviews with middle or senior administrators of selected for-profit educational companies. Other sources include direct observation made by the researcher during the periods of visiting the interviewees and companies; official documents (archival records, legislation, ministerial publications); internal documents; company fact book; company website; journalism (newspapers, periodicals), and others.


Li, W. (2011). Edupreneurs: A Study on For-Profit Education in Mainland China. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Psychologie und Pädagogik. Verfügbar unter: https://edoc.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13241/1/Li_Weixiao.pdf