International Educator - January/February 2013 - 60
By Yenbo Wu
Well-developed higher education systems in Asia are learning from each other in building worldclass research universities, and following each other in attracting talent from outside their borders.
Regional Globalism and International Higher Education in Asia
IGHER EDUCATION GLOBALIZATION HAS BEEN GROWING with galloping speed. The number of college students worldwide studying outside their borders jumped from 0.8 million in 1975 to 2 million in 2001, reaching close to 3.7 million in 2009.1 It is expected to triple to roughly 8 million by 2025.2 The percentage of young people enrolled in higher education institutions increased from 19 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2007.3 Overseas branch campuses are approaching the 200 mark, and many countries have established educational “hubs” or “cities.” Dual and double degree programs have grown, starting mostly from European countries, and twinning/transfer articulation programs have a long tradition of success in several Asian countries. With increased competition in global higher education, the global movement of talent has never been so active, and the directions of “brain” flow never so diverse. And Asia is at the forefront of many of these developments. Student Mobility Across Asian Borders
Worldwide, 52 percent of international students come from Asia.4 The top sending countries are China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, student mobility within Asia—particularly within East and Southeast Asia—has been equally, if not more, robust. The traditional “sending countries” of China, South Korea, and Japan now attract mainly students from other Asian countries to study in their own.5 This trend is going to accelerate, with ambitious plans for growth from both Asian governments and institutions. According to the Vision 2020 report from the United Kingdom, Asia is set to account for 70 percent of the global demand for international higher education by 2025. One prominent area of intra-Asia development is the creation of education hubs and education cities. These cities and hubs provide opportunities for intra-regional collaboration and competition for talents and resources, as well as the market share of globally and regionally mobile students. The Global Schoolhouse in Singapore, for example, plans to recruit 150,000 international students from Asia and beyond by 2015.7 In Malaysia, several institutions are working together to promote the country as a major regional hub of higher education with the Kuala Lumpur Education City project. Educational promotion offices supported by the Malaysian government have also been established in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates.
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR J A N + F E B . 13
Increase in Intra-Asia Collaboration
This international education development is not limited to student mobility—Asia is making strides in other areas as well. The top five countries in terms of growth in research and development spending from 1996– 2007 were China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan.6 Well-developed higher education systems in Asia are learning from each other in building worldclass research universities, and following each other in attracting talent from outside their borders.
What Propelled Intra-Asian Regionalization Trends?
There are multiple factors behind Asia’s dramatic rise in international education activities, and its attractiveness for intra-regional collaborations. Geographical proximity, historical links between countries, and cultural aspirations all might be reasons.8 The strongest force should be Asia’s economic vigor and vitality. Asia is in the middle of historic transformation, particularly in economic development. If the region