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Lisa Bian

Research Student

Research Student in the School of Education


Zhiyun Bian (Lisa) is a PhD student in the School of Education at Durham University. Her doctoral research is fully funded by the ESRC NINE DTP Doctoral Studentship. She is supervised by Dr. Cora Lingling Xu and Dr. Rille Raaper.

Zhiyun’s doctoral research investigates a group of higher education students who identify themselves as ’98five(s)’ - trash or losers at elite ‘Project 985’ universities in China. Against the backdrop of the world-class university movement, this research seeks to explore the identity construction of 98fives and how their identities influence their ‘choice’ of being resistant to the dominant discourse of ’meritocracy’ and ‘self as human capital’ in contemporary Chinese society.

Previously, Zhiyun completed her BA degree in English Language and Translation from East China Normal University, and an Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in British and European Studies from University of Oxford (Distinction). Zhiyun also holds a MA degree in Education, Policy and Society from King’s College London (Distinction). In her master’s thesis, Zhiyun used critical discourse analysis to investigate the recontextualization process of the globally dominant discourse of human capital within the higher education policy discourses in China, and how conflicts were negotiated (at discourse level) when human capital paired with a seemingly contradictory socialism ideology. She got the highest dissertation score in her cohort.

Her provisional PhD thesis title is Rebels Against What? Understanding ’98Five’ and Their Identity Construction in the Chinese Context of World-Class University Movement