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Internationalization of China’s E-Commerce Higher Education: A Review between 2001 and 2019

By Wenying Huo, Mingxuan Wu and Jeffrey Soar

Submitted: November 17th 2019Reviewed: March 2nd 2020Published: April 17th 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.91951

Downloaded: 22

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to review the development of China’s higher education in electronic commerce (e-commerce) and explore the requirements of the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. The Benefit-Driving Model (BDM) was adopted to explain the reasons for the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. The literature review spans 20 years from 2001 when the first 13 e-commerce programs were offered from China’s 597 universities. By 2019, 328 e-commerce programs were offered by 831 universities. There is a sustainable growth from 2001 (2.17%, 13 of 597) to 2019 (39.47%, 328 of 831). Currently, six universities offer two e-commerce programs with different majors. Eight universities established specialized e-commerce schools. There are also six jointly founded or cooperative e-commerce programs run in China with overseas universities. This research may be valuable for any international organization interested in collaboration with China’s e-commerce higher education. A limitation is that this research focuses only on bachelors of e-commerce programs. Further research will explore factors for success in jointly founded e-commerce programs with China’s e-commerce educators.

Keywords

  • e-commerce
  • e-commerce education
  • e-commerce program
  • higher education
  • internationalization

1. Introduction

In the past 40 years, China’s higher education has undergone the transition from elite focused education to popular and mass education. In 2019, the number of students enrolled in China’s higher institutions was 8.2 million, and the enrollment rate was 79.53% [1]. Students enrolled in the bachelor program of China’s universities were 4.22 million, while the enrollment rate was 43.3% [2]. It is estimated that the enrollment rate of higher education will reach over 60% by 2035 [3]. Comparing the number of students enrolled (0.27 million) and the enrollment rate (5%) in 1977 [4], this is a remarkable growth in the development of China’s higher education.

Since the Internet started to become popular with the public in 1994, the electronic commerce (e-commerce) market has evolved from a simple counterpart of brick and mortar retail to a shopping ecosystem; when looking at the e-commerce landscape, a relatively mature market with established players and a clear set of rules can be seen [5]. Among them, China’s e-commerce market is expected to grow by 20% annually over the 5 years since 2018 which is twice as fast as the United States or the United Kingdom [6]. Thus, the e-commerce industry requires quality talent in e-commerce.

However, a number of issues are challenging China’s e-commerce higher education. Business managers feel that it is still difficult to find satisfying e-commerce talents. In the meantime, e-commerce graduates found that it was difficult to get appropriate job positions. Research shows that managers’ Knowledge has become one of the critical success factors (CSFs) for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for adopting e-commerce successfully [7]. Staff competency is also vital to successful e-commerce adoption [7, 8]. The probability of the acceptance of e-commerce is linked to higher individuals' awareness and knowledge of e-commerce [9]. Regular training may help staff in better understanding new and updated systems adopted for business processes. Organizations with strong technical expertise and e-commerce knowledge that provide e-commerce training are most likely to realize e-commerce implementation success [10].

The purpose of this chapter is to review the development of China’s e-commerce higher education and explore the requirements of the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. The Benefit-Driving Model (BDM) was adopted to explain the reasons for the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. The literature review spans a 20-year review since 2001 when the first 13 e-commerce programs were offered. The following section will explain the benefits driving the internationalization of China’s higher education. The third section will review China’s e-commerce higher education. The fourth section will discuss the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. The fifth section will provide four suggestions for the further development of China’s e-commerce programs. The last section will focus on conclusions, research limitations, and further research.

2. The benefit of driving the internationalization of China’s higher education

Wu and Yu [11] developed the Benefit-Driving Model (BDM) for illustrating the factors influencing the internationalization of China’s higher education. The BDM will explain the reasons for the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. According to BDM, there are three driving factors pushing China to open her educational market linked to three prominent benefits for China (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The Benefit-Driving Model ([11], p. 211).

2.1 The first driver for the growth is students’ demands

China’s students’ demands drive quality improvement in China’s higher education. Students’ desires are to obtain advanced educational training so as to improve competitive capacity and to increase career opportunities. This pressure from students pushes China’s universities to improve their educational quality and to catch up with the recent advances in higher education [11].

By 2019, 21 joint-founded universities had been successfully established in China (see Appendix A). There are about 450,000 students in international cooperational programs in China, which are 1.4% of the number of students enrolled in China’s universities [12].

2.2 The second driver is marketing globalization

The second driver is the marketing globalization, which benefits the two-way exchanges. International cooperative programs do not only provide opportunities for students to accept overseas higher education in China, but opening an educational market can also attract overseas students to study in China. Many international cooperative programs and several cooperative universities are operating in China. This is an explicit trend that China has increasingly become one of the international education providers.

China has undergone a transition from a one-way education outflow to a two-way student exchange market. The number of Chinese students studying abroad in 2018 was over 662,100 [13, 14]. At the same time, the number of overseas students from 196 countries studying in China had increased to more than 492,200 including 258,122 studying at China’s universities [14]. In 1950, there were only 33 foreign students from Eastern European countries studying in China [15].

2.3 The third driver is financial constraint

The driver of financial constraint provides an opportunity for international higher education providers to joint-found or cooperate international programs in China. Cooperative programs may reduce the costs of moving overseas. Expensive tuition fees prevent many Chinese students from studying overseas. Cooperative programs provide the opportunity for those students who wish to access the advanced educational resources offered by overseas higher educational institutions. The students just pay about $5000 per year for enrolled in such joint-founded or cooperated programs in China [16]. It saves approximately 70% of tuition fees compared to studying overseas.

3. China’s e-commerce higher education

The world’s first undergraduate e-commerce program was offered by Acadia University, Canada, in September 2000 [17], where the University of California, San Diego offered a master’s degree in e-commerce in 1998 [18]. China’s universities started to recruit students in bachelor of e-commerce programs in September 2001 [19]. Thirteen of China’s universities offered a bachelor of e-commerce program in 2001. As one of the international pioneers, China’s education sector has been involved in e-commerce programs since the beginning of the twenty-first century [20].

3.1 Run with different majors

By September 2019, 831 universities had been established in China and 328 universities (39.47%, 328 of 831) offered e-commerce programs. This is a sustainable growth since 2001 (2.17%, 13 of 597) (see Figure 2). They are currently provided by 19 different schools including Economics Management; Business; Management; Management Science; Management Information System; Computer Science or IT; Business Administration; Economics and Trading; E-commerce; Transportation and Logistics; Business Planning; Intellectual Property; Tropical Agriculture and Forestry; International; Science, Technology and Art; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Arts, History, and Law; Humanities; and Big Data Engineering (see Table 1).

Figure 2.

The development of China’s e-commerce higher education between 2001 and 2019 (Source: Data in 2001–2015 from Wu et al. [20]; Data in 2016–2019 from MOE [3, 21, 22]).

SchoolsNo.%
Economics Management12036.59
Business6218.90
Management3310.06
MIS319.45
Computer Science or IT237.01
Business Administration154.57
Management Science113.35
Economics and Trading82.44
E-commerce82.44
Transportation and Logistics51.52
International41.22
Business Planning10.30
Intellectual Property10.30
Tropical Agriculture and Forestry10.30
Science, Technology, and Art10.30
Innovation and Entrepreneurship10.30
Arts, History, and Law10.30
Humanities10.30
Big Data Engineering10.30
Sum328100

Table 1.

E-commerce programs by 16 schools.

Most of China’s e-commerce programs focus on the field of business and management (73.47%, 241 of 328) including Economics Management (36.59%, 120 of 328), Business (18.90%, 62 of 328), Management (10.06%, 33 of 328), Business Administration (4.57%, 15 of 328), Management Science (3.35%, 11 of 328), and only 9.45% (31 of 313) and 7.01% (23 of 313) focus on MIS and Computer Science (IT) in 2019, respectively (see Table 1).

3.2 Two e-commerce programs offered within the same university

Six universities offer two e-commerce programs with different majors by different schools within the same university (see Table 2). These specialization majors in e-commerce include Marketing Management, Computer Science, MIS, Logistics Management, and Law, which are offered by the schools of Business Administration, Business and Management, Management, Logistics and E-commerce, IT and Security, IS, Computer and Information Science, Applied Technology, and Law.

UniversitySchoolMajorReference
Zhongnan University of Economics and LawBusiness AdministrationMarketing ManagementZUEL [23]
IT and SecurityComputer Science and ITZUEL [24]
Capital University of Economics and BusinessBusiness AdministrationE-commerceCUEB [25]
ISMISCUEB [26]
Shandong UniversityBusinessE-commerceSDU [27]
ManagementE-commerceSDU [28]
Shenyang University of TechnologyManagementLogistics Management and E-commerceSUT [29]
BusinessE-commerceSUT [30]
Zhejiang Wanli UniversityLogistics and E-commerceE-commerceZWU [31]
LawE-commerce and LawZWU [32]
Southwest UniversityComputer and Information ScienceE-commerceSWU [33]
Applied TechnologyE-commerceSWU [34]

Table 2.

Offering two programs within the university.

3.3 Eight e-commerce schools established

As the first mover, Henan University of Economics and Law established a school of E-commerce and Logistics Management in 2009. Three universities followed and established e-commerce schools in 2015. Henan College of Animal Husbandry and Economics established a school of Logistics and E-commerce; Luoyang Normal University and Jiujiang University established a school of E-commerce; in 2016, Zhejiang Wanli University established a school of Logistics and E-commerce; and Nanyang Institute of Technology established a school of E-commerce. In 2018, Zhejiang University of International Studies established the school of Cross-border E-commerce. Thus, eight China’s universities established e-commerce schools as shown in Table 3.

No.UniversitySchoolEstablishedReference
1Henan University of Economics and LawE-commerce and Logistics Management2009HUEL [35]
2Henan College of Animal Husbandry and EconomicsLogistics and E-commerce2015HNUAHE [36]
3Luoyang Normal UniversityE-commerce2015LYNU [37]
4Jiujiang UniversityE-commerce2015JJU [38]
5Zhejiang Wanli UniversityLogistics and E-commerce2016ZWU [39]
6Nanyang Institute of TechnologyE-commerce2016NYIST [40]
7Zhejiang Technology and Business UniversityManagement Engineering and E-commerce2017ZJSU [41]
8Zhejiang International Studies UniversityCross-border E-commerce2018ZISU [42]

Table 3.

E-commerce schools established in China.

4. Internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education

The University of Nottingham, UK, in partnership with Zhejiang Wanli University, China, launched the first overseas joint-founded university – the University of Nottingham, Ningbo China in Autumn 2004 in China [43]. Many countries have since then exported their advanced higher education programs to China. It is predicted that the coverage of cooperative educational programs is likely to continue to increase substantially.

The first joint-founded e-commerce programs run in 2004. Clearly, China’s e-commerce higher education took steps to keep up with the internationalization of education, while China is embracing the world’s economy and markets since entering the twenty-first century. In the internationalization’s review of China’s e-commerce programs, six joint-founded or cooperative e-commerce programs are run in China with overseas universities (see Table 4).

China's universityCooperative universityCountryProgramYearReference
Beijing University of Posts and TelecommunicationsQueen Mary University of LondonUnited KingdomE-commerce and Law2004BUPT [44]
Zhengzhou Institute of Light IndustryEdinburgh Napier UniversityUnited KingdomE-commerce2005ZZULI [45]
Jilin University of Finance and EconomicsCharles Sturt UniversityAustraliaE-commerce2005JLUFE [46], MOE [47]
Beijing Normal UniversityHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongE-business Management and Information Systems2005UIC [48]
Nankai UniversityNeoma Business SchoolFranceE-commerce2017Nankai [49]
Guizhou University of Finance and EconomicsMarshall UniversityUnited StatesE-commerce2017Xuezhangbb [50]

Table 4.

Joint-founded e-commerce programs.

Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and the Queen Mary University of London were firstly joint-founded the bachelor of e-commerce and law in 2004. Three joint-founded programs were then followed and run by Zhengzhou Institute of Light Industry jointed with Edinburgh Napier University, UK; Jilin University of Finance and Economics jointed with Charles Sturt University, Australia; and Beijing Normal University jointed with Hong Kong Baptist University in 2005. Two programs run in 2017 including Nankai University jointed with Neoma Business School in France and Guizhou University of Finance and Economics jointed with Marshall University in the United States.

These programs were jointly founded in 2004 with five different countries and regions including the United Kingdom (2), Australia (1), France (1), the United States (1), and Hong Kong, China (1). China’s e-commerce higher education sector has been involved in the internationalization of higher education.

5. Suggestions for the development of China’s e-commerce programs

For the better development of China’s e-commerce programs further, the following four suggestions will be provided and discussed.

5.1 Learning curriculum from international experience

Although there are 328 e-commerce programs run in 2019, there are only six joint-founded or cooperative e-commerce programs run with overseas universities. Table 5 shows the international pioneers in e-commerce education [20]. China’s e-commerce educators could learn the experience of curriculum development from these international pioneers.

YearCountryE-commerce program providerProgram
July 1998United StatesUniversity of California, San DiegoMaster degree program in e-commerce
July 1999United KingdomUniversity of Portsmouth Business SchoolMA marketing with e-commerce
January 2000United StatesBoston University’s Metropolitan CollegeMaster of science in e-commerce
September 2000CanadaAcadia UniversityBachelor of computer science with a specialization in e-commerce
March 2001AustraliaCentral Queensland UniversityMaster of e-commerce
October 2001United KingdomLiverpool UniversityUndergraduate degree in e-business
2001New ZealandThe University of WaikatoUndergraduate degree in e-commerce

Table 5.

The international pioneers in e-commerce education.

5.2 Integrating e-commerce courses into postgraduate programs

CEO and senior staff IT/e-commerce/e-commerce marketing knowledge play critical roles for SMEs successfully in adopting e-commerce [51]. If the decision-maker is knowledgeable about the issues and reliability problems on the Internet, he/she is likely to make a more informed decision about e-commerce adoption [52]. The higher the managers’ knowledge of e-commerce, the higher the probability of the acceptance of e-commerce [52]. Senior business management knowledge is highly relevant to e-commerce success.

5.3 Developing teaching materials based on industry requirements

Although many real business cases have been discussed, teaching materials still lag the business and industry requirements. Although some China's universities have established the number of joint programs with industries, China's e-commerce education needs improvement in business practices, industry requirements, and industry involvement [20]. Innovative technologies have not yet been introduced into e-commerce education, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). Apple has developed ARKit as its own Augmented Reality platform for iOS, and Google has developed ARCore as its own Augmented Reality platform for Android [53]. The emerging innovative technology of VR, AR, and MR may be widely used for developing immersive e-commerce systems and enhancing customer online experience. It should be encouraged to adopt the real industry project into teaching materials and study assessments.

5.4 Offering specialization major in cross-border e-commerce

Despite a slowing Chinese economy, a shift in purchasing power from the U.S. and Europe to China and Southeast Asia has begun [5]. China’s cross-border retail e-commerce sales are projected by eMarketer to reach $245 billion by 2020 [54]. China has announced another 24 cities as pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce to boost exports in December 2019 [55]. Cross-border e-commerce has thus expected as one of the dominating industry sectors and contributors to impetus the development of China’s economy. There is only Zhejiang Foreign Studies University that offers a specialization major in Cross-border e-commerce.

6. Conclusions, limitations, and further research

Since 2004, Chinese higher educational institutions have taken steps to catch up with the internationalization of education in terms of collaboration with overseas universities. The purpose of this chapter is to review the development of e-commerce higher education in China and address the requirements of the internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education.

The Benefit-Driving Model (BDM) was adopted to address the reasons for the marketability of internationalization of China’s e-commerce higher education. A 20-year review of China’s e-commerce program found that there was sustainable growth from 2001 (2.17%, 13 of 597) to 2019 (39.47%, 328 of 831). Three hundred and twenty-eight e-commerce programs are run by 19 different schools. Six universities offer two e-commerce programs with different majors. Eight universities established specialized e-commerce schools. There are also six joint-founded or cooperative e-commerce programs run in China with overseas universities. There are opportunities to improve including adopting the learning curriculum from international experience, integrating the e-commerce courses into postgraduate programs, developing the teaching materials based on industry requirements, and offering the specialization major in cross-border e-commerce.

Although this research focused only on China’s e-commerce higher education, the increasing demand will also affect international higher education providers. This research should be also of interest for any international education organizations attracted to China’s e-commerce higher education.

Acknowledgments

This research is sponsored by the Fund for Shanxi “1331 Project” Collaborative Innovation Center, China.

Appendix

Cooperative universityChina's university partnerForeign university partnerCountry/religionEstablished
University of Nottingham Ningbo ChinaZhejiang Wanli UniversityUniversity of NottinghamBritish2004
United International CollegeBeijing Normal UniversityHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong, China2005
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversityXi'an Jiaotong UniversityUniversity of LiverpoolBritish2006
NYU ShanghaiEast China Normal UniversityNew York UniversityUnited States2012
Duke Kunshan UniversityWuhan UniversityDuke UniversityUnited States2013
Wenzhou Kean UniversityWenzhou UniversityKen UniversityUnited States2014
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, ShenzhenShenzhen UniversityChinese University of Hong KongHong Kong, China2014
Shenzhen MSU-BIT UniversityBeijing Institute of TechnologyMoscow State UniversityRussia2016
Guangdong Technion – Israel Institute of TechnologyShantou UniversityIsrael Institute of TechnologyIsrael2016
SWUFE-UD Institute of Data Science at Southwestern University of Finance and EconomicsSouthwestern University of Finance and EconomicsUniversity of DelawareUnited States2019
FESTU Transport Institute of Dalian Jiaotong UniversityDalian Jiaotong UniversityFar Eastern State Transport University,Russia2019
Kyiv College at Qilu University of TechnologyQilu University of TechnologyKyiv National University of Technologies and DesignUkraine2019
MSU Institute, Nanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjing Agricultural UniversityMichigan State UniversityUnited States2019
FedUni Information Engineering Institute, Hebei University of Science and TechnologyHebei University of Science and TechnologyFederation University AustraliaAustralia2019
Aulin College, Northeast Forestry UniversityNortheast Forestry UniversityUniversity of AucklandNew Zealand2019
Portland Institute, Nanjing University of Posts and TelecommunicationsNanjing University of Posts and TelecommunicationsPortland State UniversityUnited States2019
Ulster College at Shaanxi University of Science & TechnologyShaanxi University of Science and TechnologyUniversity of UlsterUnited Kingdom2019
Detroit Green Technology Institute, Hubei University of TechnologyHubei University of TechnologyUniversity of Detroit MercyUnited States2019
SDU-ANU Joint Science College, Shandong UniversityShandong UniversityAustralian National UniversityAustralia2019
Don College of Shandong Jiaotong UniversityShandong Jiaotong UniversityDon State Technical UniversityRussia2019
Chengdu University of Technology Oxford Brookes CollegeChengdu University of TechnologyOxford Brookes UniversityUnited Kingdom2019

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Wenying Huo, Mingxuan Wu and Jeffrey Soar (April 17th 2020). Internationalization of China’s E-Commerce Higher Education: A Review between 2001 and 2019 [Online First], IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.91951. Available from:

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