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Article

State Initiatives on Globalizing Higher Education in Japan  

Satoshi P. Watanabe, Machi Sato, and Masataka Murasawa

The aim of internationalization for Japan during the early postwar period, still emerging from being an ODA (Official Development Assistance) recipient nation, was to promote student exchanges and mutual understanding across nations. Japan then successfully shifted its role to that of an ODA provider in the 1970s, engaging as a responsible citizen in the international community. However, the nation’s competitive edge has slipped with a long-stagnating economy from the mid-1990s onward, the national target has shifted from the ODA provider role towards desperate attempts to regain the lost edge through public investment in research and development as well as promoting internationalization of the nation. As the notions of world-class universities and global university rankings have prevailed worldwide over the last decade or so, the recent policies established by the Japanese government in response to an increasingly competitive and globalizing environment of higher education have transformed to leveraging domestic universities to compete for placement in the global university rankings. Balancing the reputation demonstrated in the global university rankings and generated inequalities in the service and quality of education provided among these institutions seems to be critically lacking in the current debate and hasty movement toward internationalization by the Japanese government. These hastily made policies do have some strong potential to build Japan’s universities into stronger institutions for learning, research, and producing globally competitive graduates. However, thorough long-range planning, keen insight into the overall impact of the policies, and clear long-term goals will be critical in attaining success.

Article

Patterns, Trends, Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Internationalization of Chinese Higher Education  

Xue Lan Rong and Shuguang Wang

A theoretical model of positioned, positioning, and repositioning is used to conceptualize the evolving process of the internationalization of Chinese higher education and answer the following three questions: (a) How have the quantitative trends of Chinese students studying abroad and international students studying in China changed over the past 30 years? (b) What are the differences between Chinese students studying abroad and international students studying in China in recent years, in terms of the host and sending countries, the level of study, and the fields of study, and what do the differences mean when compared to those in other countries? (c) What are the challenges, opportunities, and strategies in the years to come? To answer the first question, a compilation of descriptive quantitative data is used from numerous large national and international data sources, which reports a long-term upward trend (with some fluctuations) of inbound international students in China and outbound Chinese international students around the world over the past 30 years. To answer the second question, using general international mobile student profiles for context, data were compared of inbound international students in China and the United States in terms of both level of study and field of study. These revealed imbalanced patterns: Chinese outbound students are more likely to be in certain fields (e.g., STEM, business) and at graduate levels, but international students in China are more likely to be undergraduate students and non-degreed students in the humanities and language studies. Based on the data for the first two questions, the issues are synthesized in order to present the opportunities and challenges regarding the continuation of China’s internationalization of its higher education, especially with respect to inbound international students. In terms of issues and opportunities, economic and other impacts (such as political, financial, and pandemic related) are highlighted and call China’s attention to maintaining and expanding the strengths of its higher education system while considering competition from neighboring countries. Six major challenges are identified in this area, and suggestions are provided.

Article

Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asian Higher Education  

Yasushi Hirosato

The launch of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community in December 2015 is expected to accelerate structural transformation in Southeast Asia. It is also an initiative that shifts the landscape of higher education in Southeast Asia, which needs to meet the challenges posed by the process of regionalization of higher education. Based on the review of theoretical and conceptual works on regionalization in higher education, a broader scope of regional cooperation in higher education in Southeast Asia is suggested. Such broader scope is enable to survey the main actors (stakeholders) engaged in regional cooperation in higher education in Southeast Asia at multiple levels of cooperation: universities/higher education institutions (HEIs); government/intergovernmental cooperation; and intra-/interregional cooperation. Furthermore, two priority areas for harmonization in higher education, namely, quality assurance (QA) and credit transfer, are highlighted as particular forms of regional cooperation. Both internal and external QA systems are explained. In particular, the Academic Credit Transfer Framework for Asia (ACTFA) is introduced, which would serve as a main framework for credit transfer for Southeast Asia, by embracing credit transfer system/scheme which exist in Southeast Asia. In lieu of conclusion, main actors (stakeholders) including their mechanisms to engage in regional cooperation in higher education are summarized according to functions such as capacity building, credit transfer, grading, student mobility, mutual recognition, qualification framework, and quality assurance. Future directions in regional cooperation are suggested to pave the way towards the creation of a “common space” in higher education in Southeast Asia, or eventually the Southeast Asian Higher Education Area (SEAHEA), by developing and adapting common rules, standards, guidelines, and frameworks to be applicable to Southeast Asia.