AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 1

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Session 1: Globalization and Regionalization of Higher Education in East Asia:Challenges between Competition and Collaboration

Organizer: Li Wang, Zhejiang University, China

Chair: William Yat Wai Lo, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

This panel addresses the educational, social and political aspects involved in the intertwining process of globalization and regionalization of higher education in East Asia through reviewing the effects of the intensified cross-border activities on individual education systems and on East Asia as a whole. The main themes the panel intends to cover include the emerging internationalization and regionalization of East Asia in the higher education sphere, the possibility of integrating higher education systems in Chinese speaking societies, strategies adopted by East Asian countries and universities to cope with the pressure generated by the intensified competitions among East Asian universities in a bid for the world-class status, and subsequent tensions and conflicts over deep connections in higher education. The panel engages with individual countries in a border crossing, multidisciplinary manner. Geographically, the panel consists of papers focusing on China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea written by authors who are at different stages of academic career from universities in these societies. Thematically, it addresses regionalization and globalization of higher education and their implications for policy making and institutional behaviors. Disciplinarily, it draws on a range of disciplines in social sciences, principally including education, sociology, public policy and politics. To encourage discussion and dialogue between the audiences and the presenters, the panel includes a half-hour open discussion on competition between higher education systems in East Asia and to explore possibilities for collaboration and integration of higher education in the region.

Discourse of Internationalization, Quest for World-class Status and Competition for Global Talents: Higher Education Governance Change in China
Li Wang, Zhejiang University, China

The popularity of international league tables has intensified the competition in the global higher education market. Countries across the world have been actively participated in the global ranking exercises, aiming to enhance competitiveness and reputation of their higher education systems globally. Like their western counterparts, countries in the East also commit themselves to establish world-class universities. This paper sets out in such a context to examine the internationalization of higher education in China. It particularly focuses on recent strategies adopted in Chinese higher education sector in a search for best brain worldwide by reviewing national, local and institutional initiatives to attract world-class human capital. On the one hand, China is keen to recruit students and academics from Asian and western countries through a number of projects to promote international academic exchange and cooperation. On the other, it also actively encourages Chinese students trained overseas to return and work in the country. The flow of talents from the west to China has been seen as a ‘reverse brain drain’. In addition, the intention to reinforce the phenomenon has been clearly announced in the latest draft of the ‘National Outline for Educational Development and Reform in Mid and Long term’. Competition for best brain is central to the establishment of world-class universities and the internationalization agenda. Moreover, it indicates a paradigm shift in internationalization strategies which can also be viewed as en essential part of a policy pack to enhance China’s national competitiveness and international influence as a whole.

Recruiting Students from China: Taiwan’s Policies and Dilemma Faced
Sheng-Ju Chan, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

For the past decades, China has sent many students to other higher education systems. Along with the rise of Asia Pacific economies, many Chinese students choose Asian societies such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea as their destinations for overseas study, making a phenomenon of regionalization in Asian higher education. Taiwanese higher education sector which is facing intense international competition and deteriorating financial condition also attempts to recruit students from China in order to internationalize its higher education and solve the problem of overprovision in university places. However, due to the political legacy, recruiting Chinese students has aroused some controversies within the island and government proposed a ‘Three Restrictions and Six Prohibitions’ Policy to ensure the interests of local student and societies as a whole. These policy arrangements may bring a wide range of dilemmas for Taiwan such as unequal treatment, imbalance on student mobility between China and Taiwan, the quality of Chinese students admitted and the dispute of finance-driven consideration. The contradictions embedded within the policy deign might jeopardize the feasibility of internationalizing Taiwanese higher education in terms of recruiting Chinese students.

Global Aspirations and Strategizing for World-Class Status: New Form of Politics in Higher Education Governance in Hong Kong
Ka Ho Mok, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

In the era of globalization, competition has become global as well. In higher education, countries worldwide are attaching increasing importance to international ranking exercises and subscribing to the “world-class universities” paradigm, complemented by various strategies to benchmark with leading universities in order to enhance the global competitiveness of their universities. This is particularly so in Asia as it emerges as the centre of fast-growing economies of the world. With strong determination to perform better in international ranking exercises, a number of Asian universities have attempted to restructure their university systems and searched for new governance and promotion strategies to secure higher global ranking. Similar to their European counterparts, Asian universities are increasingly subject to new external standards of measurement while their own internal governance processes have become more managerial in orientation. Against this wider global policy backdrop, this paper reviews major policies introduced and strategies employed by the government and universities/higher education institutions of Hong Kong in the quest for world–class status. More specifically, this paper critically examines the “politics of competition” among institutions for both state and non-state resources, in recruiting and retaining global talents and in internationalizing their curricula in order to achieve their global aspirations. It also explores the intra-institutional “politics” within institutions involving tensions between teaching and research, and among different discipline areas.

The Emerging Chinese Axis in Higher Education
William Yat Wai Lo, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

In light of the concepts of regionalization and regionalism, this paper argues that global university ranking can be used as a zoning technology intensifying cross-border networks and integration in higher education in East Asia. It examines the implications of the emerging ranking systems run by China and Taiwan for other higher education sectors in the region. On this basis, the paper argues that there is the possibility of regionalization of higher education in Chinese-speaking countries and territories, if these Chinese indices are used in their own university ranking systems. The point of “extra regional” made by Robertson further suggests that the extension of the Chinese university ranking systems and indices may not be limited in the region, given the increasing mobility of academics and students, the popularity of learning Chinese language and the growth of Chinese communities in other countries and regions. In this sense, the processes of regionalization and globalization of higher education may provide a new platform for normative leadership by China.