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Internationalisation in the Asia Pacific: Education Hubs in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia

  • Peter Kell
  • Gillian Vogl
Chapter
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 17)

Abstract

This chapter explores the emerging participation of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in transnational education and discusses the development of so-called education hubs in those countries as a way of promoting global student mobility. This chapter documents the policy settings and the different positioning of the state and the market in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in launching the concept of the education hubs as the platform for attracting international students. This chapter also describes how these education hubs are also part of a response in Hong Kong and Singapore to declining birth rates and an ageing population and the need for a younger professional workforce. This means that these nations, like others, are forced to compete in the market as global workforce, and foreign students offer an opportunity to source global talent. The authors also discuss how the metaphor of education hubs is used to create an image of modernisation that captures the ambition in these countries and cities to shift the principal foundations of the economy from ‘old’ production to ‘new’ knowledge industries. Education hubs are conceptualised around the demands of business groups who suggest that education hubs would facilitate growth in transportation, construction and ancillary services including tourism, finance and real estate. This close alignment with urban development and commercialisation has characterised the promotion of education hubs with mixed results. This chapter also details developments in each of these countries and cities and documents several emerging tensions and dilemmas. These include controversies in Hong Kong regarding the veracity of claims to internationalisation when the vast majority of international students are non-local students from mainland China. In Singapore, the ambitious plans for the island state to be a Global Schoolhouse by attracting high-quality international institutions from overseas are critically explored in the context of the collapse of many of the much vaunted collaborative enterprises. In Malaysia, the internationalisation of the higher education system has been hampered by questions about language policy, resources and a growing concern about radicalism which belies Malaysia’s reputation as a safe destination. In most cases, the authors consider the policy statements of governments are often a policy discourse of ambitious intent and in all the discussion associated internationalisation and education hubs in the Asia Pacific, students are seen as presented as nothing more than targets and numbers and their educational and personal needs are seen as peripheral to those of economic development. The need for housing, financing and transport for students is largely framed in economic terms as investment and infrastructure opportunities, and there is an assumption that students will adapt to their new environment easily without anxiety and trauma. This chapter explores the emerging participation of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in transnational education and discusses the development of so-called education hubs in those countries as a way of promoting global student mobility. This chapter documents the policy settings and the different positioning of the state in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and the market in launching the concept of the education hub as the platform for attracting international students. There is considerable optimism and confidence that this loose concept of the education hub will facilitate internationalisation, but this chapter of the book describes many of the dilemmas and tensions that are associated with the notion of education hubs. The deterministic view that the education hubs represent an evolution in the development of the economies as they strive to become regional leaders in education is discussed and critiqued by the authors. Tensions around global student mobility being used as a conduit for migration, the privatisation of the higher education system, concerns over the quality of provision and instances of the collapse of providers all factors have an impact in some locations. In many cases, as the authors describe, the policy statements of governments are ambitious plans which have little substance and represent a policy discourse of ambitious intent. This chapter also describes how education hubs are also part of a response in Hong Kong and Singapore to declining birth rates and an ageing population and the need for a younger professional workforce. This means that these nations, like others, are having to compete in the market for as global workforce and students offer an opportunity to source global talent. While these centres promote themselves as regional centres and open economies, this chapter and the next chapter explore this from the student’s point of view. In all the discussion associated with internationalisation and education hubs in the Asia Pacific, students are seen and presented as targets and numbers, and their educational and personal needs are seen as peripheral to those of economic development. The need for housing, financing and transport for students is largely framed in economic terms as investment and infrastructure opportunities, and there is an assumption that students will adapt to their new environment easily without anxiety and trauma. The planned and systematic approach proposed by Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia stands in stark contrast to the often dynamic nature of global student mobility. The patterns and trends in student mobility are often influenced by external factors such as currency rates, visa and travel regulations, as well as perceptions about the safety and security of students. This means that the success or otherwise of the claims to regional leadership is also determined by factors that influence global students mobility in the dominant markets of Europe, North America and Australasia.

Keywords

International Student Foreign Student International Education Local Student Overseas Student 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kell
    • 1
  • Gillian Vogl
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationCharles Darwin UniversityCasuarinaAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Social InclusionMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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