University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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Dr John Lowe

Associate Professor, School of Education and English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

John Lowe


Personal details


Room 419, Administration Building   
199 Taikang East Road Ningbo 315100 China

+86 (0)574 8818 ext. 9074


PhD Institute of Education, London; MA Institute of Education, London; Dip Ed Institute of Education, London; PGCE Institute of Education, London; BSc Imperial College, London


I began my professional life as a high school science teacher in Kenya and then in the Solomon Islands. During and after taking my MA and PhD, I worked as a self-employed educational consultant in a range of countries until my wife told me in 2006 to ‘get a proper job!’ Before my move to The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) in 2013 I was a lecturer in the Education Department at the University of Bath, UK, but during that time I also taught, researched and worked in various capacities in more than twenty countries worldwide. My central research interest has always been the relationship between education and social change but the specific focus has shifted over the years. Currently, I have two main research foci, international higher education and transitions from education to work in the context of a global knowledge economy. Recent geo-political developments add interesting – though worrying – implications for this research focus, and also informs my teaching. I have a particular interest in Chinese higher education and Chinese international students and I am engaged in collaborative research with Chinese colleagues in these areas. 

Teaching and learning

MA International Higher Education:

Course Director and Admissions Tutor

Module Convener:

EDUC4196 Globalization, Higher Education and Society

EDUC4194 Internationalizing Higher Education: Institutional strategy and development

EDUC4195 Enhancing Student Experience in International Higher Education

EDUC4193 Shaping the Future: An evidence-based approach to managing change in international higher education

EDUC4176 Dissertation

Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD):

Teaching contribution to all modules

Supervision of individual student research


Expertise Summary

I have professional and research experience in many aspects of education – sociology of education, curriculum development, assessment, teacher professional development and aspects of educational policy. In recent years, my expertise – or perhaps I should say my preference – has been in higher education and its relation to both individual and social development.

Methodologically, my expertise/experience lies primarily in comparative studies and in the use of qualitative and mixed-method approaches.

Theoretically, I am happier working with sociological perspectives and, in particular, cross-cultural explorations of sociological theory, although the nature of education as a research field tells me that too narrow a disciplinary focus is not always helpful.

Editorial Board Member: British Journal of Sociology of Education

Research Interest

This has been broad and shifting over many years, but most recent interest and research projects have been in (international) higher education and student experience. I am also interested in exploring qualitative methodological issues, especially in cross-cultural contexts.

I am currently supervising two PhD and nine EdD students, whose theses cover a wide range of educational topics.

I have supervised many doctoral students (PhD and EdD) to successful completion, but cannot remember the exact number.



    1. Ed. (with Hugh Lauder, Michael Young, Harry Daniels & Maria Balarin) Educating for the Knowledge Economy? Critical Perspectives. (Abingdon, Routledge, 2012).
    2. (with Leon Tikly, Michael Crossley, Hillary Dachi, Roger Garrett & Beatrice Mukabaranga) Globalisation and Skills for Development in Rwanda and Tanzania (London, DFID, 2003).

Chapters in books

    1. Lowe, John & Neubauer, Deane E. (2019) Internationalization, Globalization and Institutional Roles in the Face of Rising Nationalisms. In Deane E. Neubauer & Sachi Edwards (eds.) Contesting Nationalism and its Discourses. (London, Palgrave Macmillan).
    2. Tian, Mei, & Lowe, John (2018). Missing dialogue: Intercultural experiences of Pakistani students in their first-year studies at a Chinese university. In Abe W. Ate, Ly Thi Tran and Indika Liyanage, Educational Reciprocity and Adaptivity: International students and stakeholders. London: Routledge. (pp. 142-161).
    3. Tian, Mei & Lowe, John (2018) International Student Recruitment as an Exercise in Soft Power: A Case Study of Undergraduate Medical Students at a Chinese University. In Fred Dervin, Xiangyun Du & Anu Härkönen (eds.) International Students in China: Education, Student Life and Intercultural Encounters. (London, Palgrave Macmillan, Chapter 7).
    4. Li, Zhen & Lowe, John (2016) Chinese higher education and social justice: what can the capabilities approach offer? In Bin Wu and W. John Morgan (ed) Chinese Higher Education Reform and Social Justice. (London: Routledge, pp. 14-32).
    5. Li, Zhen & Lowe, John (2016) Academic Sojourners or Global Educators: Teaching Experiences of Western Academics at a UK University in China. In Shibao Guo and Yan Guo (eds.) Spotlight on China: Chinese Education in the Globalized World. (Rotterdam, Boston, Taipei: Sense Publishers, pp. 187-202).
    6. (with Tian Mei) Intercultural experience in English universities: case studies of Chinese students. In Felix Maringe and Nick Foskett (ed), Globalisation and Internationalisation in Higher Education: Theoretical, strategic and management perspectives (London, Continuum, 2010, pp. 291-304).
    7. (with Rita Chawla-Duggan) Aims for primary education: changing global contexts. In Robin Alexander (ed) The Cambridge Primary Review Research Surveys (London, Routledge, 2009, pp. 261-281).
    8. International Examinations, National Systems and the Global Market. In Keith Watson (ed.) Doing Comparative Education: issues and problems (Oxford, Symposium Books, 2001).
    9. Assessment and Educational Quality: Implications for international education. In Mary Hayden & Jeff Thompson (eds) International Schools and International Education: Achieving Quality (London, Kogan Page, 2000).
    10. Economic imperatives and cultural discontinuities in science education: a view from the Solomon Islands. In Fiona Leach and Angela Little (eds) Education, Cultures and Economics: dilemmas for development (New York, Garland, 1999, pp. 283 – 299)

Peer-reviewed journal articles

    1. Li, Zhen & Lowe, John (2016) Mobile student to mobile worker: the role of universities in the ‘war for talent’. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37(1): 11-29.
    2. Tian, Mei & Lowe, John (2014) Intercultural identity and intercultural experiences of American students in China. Journal of Studies in International Education, 18(3): 281-297. 
    3. (with Tian Mei) (2012) The role of feedback in cross-cultural learning: a case study of Chinese taught postgraduate students in a UK university. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(5): 580-598.
    4. (with Wang Qi) (2011) Young people’s management of the transition from education to employment in the knowledge-based sector in Shanghai, Journal of Education and Work, 24(1): 119-140.
    5. (with Jutta Nikel) (2010) Talking of fabric: a multi-dimensional model of quality in education, Compare, 40(5): 589-605.
    6. (with Tian Mei) (2009) Existentialist internationalisation and the Chinese student experience in English universities, pp. 659-676, Compare, 39(5): 659-676.
    7. (with Yu Xin) (2009) Computer Assisted Testing of Spoken English: A Study of the SFLEP College English Oral Test System in China, Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, 7(3): 33-38.
    8. (with Tian Mei) (2008) Internationalisation, Multicultural Campuses and Inter-cultural Understanding: myth and reality in British Universities, 高等教育研究 (Research in Higher Education), 29: 53-62.
    9. (with Tian Mei) (2006) The role of feedback in learning: Culturally mediated responses to formative assessment among postgraduate students in a British university. ECTS Assessment in Higher Education. University of Umeå, Sweden.
    10. (with Leon Tikly, Michael Crossley, Hillary Dachi, Roger Garrett & Beatrice Mukabaranga) (2003) Globalisation and Skills for Development: some lessons from sub-Saharan Africa. Policy Futures in Education, 1(2).
    11. (2000) International examinations: the new credentialism and reproduction of advantage in a globalising world. Assessment in Education: principles, policy and practice, 7(3): 363 – 377.
    12. (1999) International Examinations, National Systems and the Global Market. Compare, 29 (3): 317 – 330.
    13. (1998) International and Comparative Education. International Schools Journal, 17(2): 18 – 21.
    14. (1997) Science concept development in Solomon Islands students: a comparative analysis. International Journal of Science Education, 19(7): 743-759.
    15. (1995) The impact of school science on the world-view of Solomon Islands students. Prospects, 25(4): 653-667.
    16. (1995) Social and cultural influences on students' responses to science in a Solomon Islands secondary school. International Journal of Educational Development, 15(1)

External Research grants

  1. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2012 – 2013, £46,000: Student engagement in quality assurance and enhancement: a snapshot of institutional and student body practices.
  2. Economic and Social Research Council, 2008 – 2010, Research Seminar Series, Rethinking the Needs of International Students: Critical Perspectives on the Internationalisation of UK Higher Education Institutions. £14,880. Collaborative work with the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.
  3. Economic and Social Research Council, 2008 – 2009, Research Seminar Series, The Knowledge Economy and Education. 
  4. Department for International Development, £2.5 million, 2005 – 2010: Implementing quality education in low income countries. A research consortium comprising the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Dar-es-Salaam, Cape Coast (Ghana), Witwatersrand, and the Kigali Institute of Education (Rwanda).
  5. Economic and Social Research Council, 2004 – 2006: Decision making by Chinese students choosing UK and Chinese universities. £43,835. Collaborative research with Beijing Normal University, China.
  6. Department for International Development, 2000 – 2001: Globalisation and Skills for Development in Tanzania and Rwanda: Implications for Education and Training Policy. £85,000. Collaborative research with Universities of Bristol and Dar es Salaam, and Kigali Institute of Education.

Some recent conference presentations

  1. ‘Growing-up abroad: international students in China’ Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, San Francisco, 14 – 18 April, 2019.
  2. ‘Glocal talents or cannon fodder? Higher Education in a time of war’. International Symposium on Cultivating Glocal Talents, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, December 7-8, 2018.
  3. ‘Internationalization, globalization and institutional roles in the face of rising nationalisms’. International Symposium on Contesting Globalization and Implications for Asian Pacific Higher Education, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, October 19-20, 2017
  4. ‘From international student to skilled migrant worker: policies, practices and preferences in comparative perspective’ (with Li Zhen). World Congress of Comparative Education Societies, University of Buenos Aires, June 23-28, 2013.
  5. ‘Experiences of international students in China: a soft power perspective’ (with Mei Tian). 4th BNU-IOE Biennial Education International Conference on ‘Equity and Quality in Education’, Beijing Normal University, October 23-24, 2012.
  6. ‘Internationalisation and International Students’ Experience: Case Studies of Universities in China and the UK’ (with Mei Tian). 4th World Universities Forum, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Jan. 14-16, 2011.
  7. ‘Postgraduate employment transitions in an international context’ (with Zhen Li). AERA Annual Conference, New Orleans, April 9 – 12, 2011.
  8. ‘Yanyan’s Sister and the Pig: Change, Continuity and Educational Opportunity in China’. BERA annual conference, University of Warwick, September 1-3, 2010.
  9. ‘Internationalisation, Multicultural Campuses and Inter-cultural Understanding: myth and reality in British Universities’ (with Mei Tian) 5th International Workshop on Higher Education Reforms, East China Normal University, Shanghai, November 4 – 6, 2008.
  10. ‘Globalisation and Internationalism in UK Universities: Misconceived links and lost opportunities’ (with Mei Tian). BAICE biennial international conference, Glasgow, September 4 – 6, 2008.