Dr Wei Zhang

Dr Wei ZhangAssociate Professor in Education

MA (Warwick), PhD (Manchester)

Tel: 0116 229 7506
Email: wz24@le.ac.uk

Personal details

MA (Warwick), PhD (Manchester)

I have been teaching and researching in higher education sector for 12 years, 10 of which are spent at the University of Leicester, supervising students at Masters and Doctoral level on areas surrounding educational leadership, international education and higher education studies. I am committed to supporting the University’s significant number of international postgraduate students. Having completed my MA and PhD as an international student, I appreciate the difficulties of conceiving academic practice as a non-native speaker of English. I am, therefore, determined to address international students’ learning needs to ensure diversity and differentiation in teaching and concomitantly, help them establish successful learning journeys. I am committed to conducting innovative research and delivering inspiring teaching.


Before coming to England in 2003, I taught English in a well-respected university in China. Since joining the University of Leicester, I have gained extensive experience of lecturing and supervising students at undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral level on topics ranging from educational leadership and management, culture, power and social justice as well as research methods in education.

Currently, I teach the following modules at the School of Education:

MA in International Education (Programme leader) (Campus-based)

  • Contemporary Issues in Education (ED7310)
  • Research methods (ED7311)
  • Educational Leadership Pathway (pathway leader) (ED7309 and ED7321)
  • Dissertation (ED7320)

MSc in Educational Leadership (Distance Learning)

  • Organisational Effectiveness, Improvement and Transformation (module leader) (ED 7588)

I also supervise doctoral students within my research interests. Virtually all of the full-time postgraduates and many of the distance learning ones are international students. Having completed an MA and PhD as an international student myself, I really appreciate how challenging it can be to master a different type of academic practice to the one one has grown up with. I have a good grasp of their needs and can provide a high level of differentiation in my teaching.

I have developed a positive and nurturing teaching and supervisory style which my colleagues and students have rated highly in peer observations, module evaluations and student-staff council meetings. I have encouraged the strongest of my master’s students to continue to doctoral study and, to date, 18 of them have done so in five universities across the UK.

In the past five years, I have developed innovative pedagogies with colleagues within the department to address DL students' needs and provide them with flexible and high quality learning experiences. E-learning and blended learning have also been integrated into the full-time, campus-based programme. Discussion boards, wikis, narrated PowerPoints, and webinars are widely used to facilitate independent learning; lecture capture tools (e.g. Echo 360) and online assessments are also employed to help students revise and to enable them to receive timely and high-quality feedback.


Selected recent publications

  • Zhang, W. (2018) ‘Conceptions and Misconceptions: a Case Study of Issues Arising from School Leadership Development within a District Education Bureau in China’, Education 3-13, https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2018.1502335 .
  • Zong, X. H. and Zhang, W. (2017) Establishing world-class universities in China: deploying a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the net effects of Project 985, Studies in Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2017.1368475

  • Zong, X. H. and Zhang, W. (2015) ‘Education Master’s Students’ Research Orientation and Learning Experience in Quantitative Methods and Statistics Courses’, Journal of Postgraduate Education (in Chinese).

Full listing of publications


My research to date can be categorised into two strands: one strand centres on leadership, leadership development, and educational governance in relation to the disjuncture between education administrators’ espoused policy and school practitioners’ enacted practice; the other strand focuses on quantitative methods teaching and learning and educational policy studies in China using quantitative methods. Both strands contribute to understanding and modifying locally contextualised development of educational practice.

Since 2015, I have expanded my research agenda to the area of higher education. A series of three papers around World Class University movement in China have been planned in collaboration with Dr Xiaohua Zong at Nanjing University, Institute of Education. The initial study ‘Establishing World-Class Universities in Chin: deploying a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the net effects of Project 985’, which was published on 31st August 2017 in Studies in Higher Education, focused on the implementation of project 985 and its efficiency. 

The second project ‘Establishing World-Class Universities in China: policy evolution and institutional resistance’ extends the policy coverage and turns the focus towards how the state government shapes opportunities and barriers for building WCUs and how institutional strategies from 42 HEIs align with national policies. Phase I of the study is funded by the CSSAH Research Development Fund and is now completed. Times Higher Education Magazine made reference to my work on 12 July 2018 (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/china-could-overtake-us-research-impact-mid-2020s).

One of the results from the second project is that China’s HE funding formula is partially based on the quantitative assessment of research outputs. Acknowledging the drawbacks of the evaluation methods, it is the intention of the third study to develop improved methodology and explore measures for evaluation academic institutions and allocating funding.

Being bilingual enables me to understand carefully-written Chinese policy documents and academic journal articles and to appreciate all the nuances and subtleties that get lost in translation. I am also acutely aware of all the unspoken rules and cultural norms that underpin so much professional dialogue in Chinese university seminar rooms and government offices. I benefit from excellent professional contacts and networks because of my previous academic career. The research partnerships I have established with two elite Chinese university Departments of Education grant me access to key policymakers and stakeholders. There are opportunities for government level collaboration in relation to CPD, research capacity-building, and organisational learning.

Research projects


I am interested in supervising topics related to my research interests which include:

  • Higher education studies
  • Cross-cultural investigations of schooling and school leadership
  • Understanding and evaluating school university partnership
  • Teaching and learning research methods
  • Understanding locally contextualised educational practice and policies in China

Share this page:

Keep up-to-date with latest from the School of Education by following us on Twitter:


Contact Us

School of Education
University of Leicester
21 University Road

Telephone: 0116 252 3688

Email: EducationDept@le.ac.uk

Student complaints procedure


AccessAble logo

The University of Leicester is committed to equal access to our facilities. DisabledGo has a detailed accessibility guide for 21 University Road.