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Professor YANG, Lili

Professor YANG, Lili


Assistant Professor

Academic Unit of Social Contexts and Policies of Education


DPhil (Oxon), MA (Tsinghua), BA (Minzu University of China)


[javascript protected email address]


(852) 2859 2527


Room 423, Runme Shaw Building

Research Expertise

  • Culture and Cultural Studies
  • International and Comparative Education
  • Higher Education Policy and Practice
  • Sociology and Philosophy of Education
  • Education in China

Prospective PhD/ EdD/ MPhil Applications

I am not taking on graduate supervision in 2024-2025.

Higher Education

Cross-Cultural Comparison in Higher Education

Higher Education in Chinese Societies

Global Science

Political Philosophy and Education


I have a strong interest in Eastern-Western comparison in higher education. In the context of Western epistemic hegemony and global knowledge asymmetries, I ask questions of how to integrate local knowledges into the knowledge systems at local and global levels, especially how to traverse Chinese traditional and Western knowledges in research. In this process, I also draw on traditional Chinese ideas and thoughts to discuss contemporary higher education issues. In addition, I conduct research on global science, with special attention to epistemic equity and justice in the global science system. More broadly, my interests include higher education, comparative education, and educational and political philosophy.

  • 2023 Best Journal Article Award, Comparative and International Education Society – Higher Education SIG
  • The Second Prize of the Outstanding Achievements in Philosophical and Social Sciences Research (Gansu Province, China)  (2021) 甘肃省哲学与社会科学优秀成果二等奖-著作类
  • Winner of the Annual Poster Conference (Department of Education, University of Oxford) (2020)
  • UK ESRC Overseas Institutional Visits Awards (2018)
  • Seed Funding for International Activities (University College London) (2017)
  • DAAD Fellowship for Short-term Visit to Germany (2016)
  • Tsinghua Fund for International Visits (2016)

As Principle Investigator:

  • The public good of higher education: A study of Hong Kong (PI), 2024-2026, Hong Kong Research Grants Council (HK$ 622,796)
  • The impact of overseas returned and locally cultivated talents on enhancing the international influence of Chinese universities (PI), 2024-2026, National Natural Science Foundation of China (RMB 300,000)
    • “高层次人才海外引进与本土培养对中国大学国际影响力提升的作用机制与对策研究”,主持人,2024-2026,国家自然科学基金-青年科学基金项目
  • Moving across intellectual traditions: Epistemic identities and practices of Chinese intellectuals (PI), 2022-2024, HKU Seed Fund for Basic Research for New Staff (HK$149,540)
  • Conceptions of traversing Chinese and Western intellectual traditions in research: Views from leading Chinese intellectuals (PI), 2022-2023, HKU Faculty of Education Project-based Research Funding (HK$60,000)
  • Policies on international higher education in the Greater Bay Area (Co-PI), 2023, CHINA VISION 中國視野 – China 10,000 Exchange Programme

As Co-Investigator:

  • Scientific publications and collaborations in ASEAN: A sequential mixed-methods study (Co-I), 2024-2026, Hong Kong Research Grants Council (HK$ 738,000)


  1. Yang, L. (2023). Higher Education, State and Society: Comparing the Chinese and Anglo-American Approaches. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 
    • Book Series Foreword by Simon Marginson, Book Foreword by Ruth Hayhoe, Endorsed by Rui Yang, Alis Oancea, Marijk van der Wende.
  2. Oldac, Y.I., Yang, L., Lee, S. (Eds.) (2023). Student Agency and Self-Formation in Higher Education. London: Palgrave McMillan.

  3. Wang, D. & Yang, L. (2019). The Provincial Government’s Power and Role in Postgraduate Education Governance in China (治理视角下研究生教育省级统筹权研究). Beijing: Chinese Science and Technology Press (中国科学技术出版社). [in Chinese]

Journal articles and book chapters, grouped in themes (*corresponding author)

Research on Chinese ideas and experience, with the aim of promoting epistemic justice and pluriversality 

  • Shen, Y., Yang, L.*, Yang, R. (2023). Integrating Chinese and Western knowledge: a case of scholar Fei Xiaotong. Higher Education [online first],
  • Yang, L., Marginson, S.*, & Xu, X. (2022). ‘Thinking through the world’: A tianxia heuristic for higher education. Globalisation, Societies and Education [online first]. 
  • Yang, L., & Tian, L.* (2022). Rethinking the ‘global’ in global higher education studies: From the lens of the Chinese idea of tianxia. Oxford Review of Education, 48(4), 536-553
  • Yang, L. (2022). A Chinese approach to global public goods in higher education: The idea of tianxia weigong (all under heaven belongs to/is for all). In Simon Marginson & Xin Xu (Eds). Changing Higher Education in East Asia (pp. 51-68). London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Yang, L., & Fan, L. (2023).高等教育的贡献与价值:中西话语体系下的概念辨析与本土建构 (The contribution and value of higher education: A conceptual analysis and local construction of relevant concepts in the Chinese and Western discourses). 清华大学教育研究 (Tsinghua Journal of Education), 44(06), 21-30. (in Chinese)

  • Yang, L., Marginson, S. Xu, X. (2022). 以“天下”思天下:“天下”思想对全球高等教育的新启发 (Thinking through tianxia: A new/old heuristic for worldwide higher education). 清华大学教育研究 (Tsinghua Journal of Education), (2), 1-13. [in Chinese]

Cross-cultural comparative studies in higher education

  • Yang, L. (2023). The public good of higher education: a lexical-based comparison of the Chinese and Anglo-American approaches. Studies in Higher Education, 48(2), 248-262.
  • Marginson, S.*, & Yang, L. (2022). Individual and collective outcomes of higher education: a comparison of Anglo-American and Chinese approaches. Globalisation, Societies and Education, (1), 1-31.
  • Yang, L. (2022). Student formation in higher education: A comparison and combination of Confucian xiushen (self-cultivation) and BildungHigher Education, 83, 1161-1180.
  • Yang, L. (2021).Social equity and equity in higher education: A comparison of the liberal Anglo-American and Chinese political cultures. International Journal of Educational Development.
  • Yang, L., Oldac, Y.I., & Lee, S. (2023). Agency and student development in higher education: A cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exploration. In Yusuf Oldac, Lili Yang, and Soyoung Lee (Eds.), Student Agency and Self-Formation in Higher Education (pp. 67-88). London: Palgrave McMillan.

  • Marginson, S., & Yang, L. (2023). A comparison of Chinese and Anglo-American ideas about higher education and public good. In S. Marginson, B. Cantwell, D. Platonova and A. Smolentseva (Eds.), Assessing the contributions of higher education: Knowlege for a disordered world. London: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Marginson, S. & Yang, L. (2021). Higher education and public good in East and West. In Pam Fredman, & Remus Pricopie (Eds). International Higher Education Cooperation through the International Association of Universities (pp. 161-168). Palgrave McMillan.
  • Marginson, S. & Yang, L. (2020). China meets Anglo-America on the New Silk Road: A comparison of state, society, self, and higher education. In Marijk van der Wende, William Kirby, Nian Cai Liu, & Simon Marginson (Eds). China and Europe on the New Silk Road: Connecting Universities across Eurasia (pp. 255-283). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Global science research

  • Yang, L., Li, S., Oldac, Y.I., & Wang, C.* (2023). The agency-structure complex in international research collaboration: evidence from a Chinese elite university. Studies in Higher Education.

  • Yang, L., Ikbal Oldac, Y., & Nkansah, J. O. (2023). What makes scientists collaborate? International collaboration between scientists in traditionally non-central science systems. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-17.
  • Oldac, Y.I.*, Yang, L. (2023). Regionalisation and agency in science space: A historical bibliometric analysis of ASEAN science. International Journal of Educational Development, 97, 102735.
  • Oldac, Y. I.*, Nkansah, J. O., & Yang, L. (2023). ‘West is must, the rest is optional’: epistemic injustice and positional good in international research collaboration. Higher Education, 1-18.
  • Oldac, Y.I, & Yang, L.* (2022). The connectivity between Chinese and Turkish science systems: an agential perspective. Asia Pacific Education Review [online first].
  • Oldac, Y.*, & Yang, L. (2021). Two edges of Asia in a multipolar world: The interconnections between Chinese and Turkish higher education systems. Higher Education Governance & Policy, 2(2), 68-81.

Research on higher education in China, the UK and in general

  • Yang, L., Yang, J. & Wang, C.* (2021). The research-intensive university in a glonacal higher education system: The creation of the world-class university in China. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management.
  • Yang, L. (2021). 英国现代博士生教育:起源、变迁与趋势 (Modern doctoral education in the UK: The origin, development, and trends). 学位与研究生教育 (Academic Degrees & Graduate Education), 10, 77-84. [in Chinese]
  • Wang, C., Yang, L. & Yang, J. (2020). 德国大学“卓越计划”实施成效评价:基于PSM-DID方法 (An evaluation of the universities’ efficacy of the ‘Excellence Initiative’ in Germany: Based on the method of PSM-DID). 中国高教研究(Chinese Higher Education), (1), 5-11. DOI:10.16298/j.cnki.1004-3667.2020.01.02. [in Chinese]
  • Yang, L. & Wang, D (2018). 我国研究生教育省级统筹效果分析——基于修正的IPA分析法 (The effect of provincial co-ordination of postgraduate education governance in China – Based on a revised IPA analysis). 学位与研究生教育(Academic Degrees & Graduate Education), (1), 49-55. [in Chinese]
  • Yuan, B. & Yang, L. (2016). 从文献看教育智库研究:一个亟待开拓的领域 (Educational think tank studies from literature: A pioneering field). 高等工程教育研究 (Research in Higher Education of Engineering), (2), 40-47. [in Chinese]
  • Yang, L. (2016). 约翰为什么来中国学习?——一位美国留学生的叙事研究 (Why does John come to China? – A narrative study of reasons why American students come to China). 教育学术月刊 (Education Research Monthly), (2), 74-81. [in Chinese]

Commentary pieces:
  • Fan, L., & Yang, L. (2022). Commercial Monopoly or Open Research: China’s National Knowledge Infrastructure. International Higher Education, (112), Autumn 2022.
  • Zhang, W., Wang, Y., Yang, L.*, Wang, C.* (2020). ‘Suspending classes without stopping learning’: China's education emergency management policy in the COVID-19 outbreak. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 13(3), 55;
  • Wang, C. & Yang, L. (2020). Providing the research system with sufficient competent early-career researchers: the system of postdoctoral programs in China. Higher Education in Russia and Beyond, 2 (23), 15-17.
  • Yang, L., Marini, G. (2019). Research productivity of Chinese young thousand talents. International Higher Education. (featured in Times Higher Education)

Book reviews and published working papers

Associate Editor, European Journal of Education, 2023-2026

Editorial Board Member & Handling Editor, Humanities & Social Sciences Communication, 2022-

《学位与研究生教育》(CSSCI) 青年编委, 2023-2025

SIG-Covener & Management Committee Member, HKU-Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC), 2022-

Management Committee Member, HKU-The Consortium for Higher Education Research in Asia (CHERA), 2022-

Program Co-Chair, HESIG, Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), 2022-2023


Guest editor of special issues

  1. The ‘public’ in higher education in Anglo-America and China: A conversation about the comparison (2022). Globalisation, Societies and Education. (Co-edited with Prof Simon Marginson)

Journal referee

Higher Education, Journal of Studies in International Education, Oxford Review of Education, Higher Education Policy, International Journal of Educational Research, Journal of International Students, ECNU Review of Education, Journal of Asian Public Policy.



Co-chair, the STORIES Conference 2021 (Department of Education, University of Oxford)