Asia: The Next Higher Education Superpower?

NEW YORK March 11, 2015—A new book, Asia: The Next Higher Education Superpower?, published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation, critically examines the local and global trends driving higher education policies in Asia and their impact on the local and regional knowledge economies.

With the advent of a large middle class and new openness driven by economic imperatives, Asia appears to be shifting into the world’s center stage. National investments in international higher education have already contributed to a greater prominence of Asian institutions in the global rankings as well as to dramatic increases in incoming and outgoing student mobility numbers. Chinese students make up the highest percentage of international students in the United States, and the number of students hosted by China has more than tripled since 2005.

Edited by Rajika Bhandari, IIE’s Deputy Vice President for Research and Evaluation, and Alessia Lefébure, Director of the Alliance at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, this volume looks at how governments, universities, and international organizations are responding to recent trends and meeting the diverse challenges and opportunities across the region. In their introductory chapter, renowned diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, currently Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Tan Eng Chye, Deputy President of Academic Affairs and Provost at NUS, depict a region on the rise, expected to overcome present challenges.

The chapters that follow feature an impressive group of leading scholars, practitioners, and education policy experts from 10 different countries, providing a wide range of perspectives on Asia’s status as a world player in higher education. The authors explore factors that have been catalysts for higher education reforms such as economic development, greater access and equity, emphasis on international study, and investment by foreign and multilateral organizations. Together, the chapters foretell a rapidly expanding, and eastward-shifting, global higher education landscape.

Asia: The Next Higher Education Superpower? focuses on both the global and regional aspects of higher education in Asia. “Sheer numbers indicate that progress in Asia is likely to profoundly impact global higher education,” said Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education. “We hope this book will help educators and policymakers in Asia and the United States adapt to new developments and that it will encourage them to engage in educational relationships that foster further higher education opportunities and partnerships.”

The book benefits from the expertise of two editors with extensive professional and personal experience in the region: Rajika Bhandari, who provides strategic oversight of IIE’s research and evaluation activities, has conducted extensive research in India and was also the editor of an earlier book in the IIE/AIFS series, International India: A Turning Point in Education Exchange with the U.S. Alessia Lefébure is an expert on global higher education who has led the China Office and the Centre for Asia & the Pacific for Sciences Po and has lectured on comparative higher education policies.

Looking through a variety of lenses, the first part of the book analyzes different higher education challenges and questions the degree to which Asia can compete globally. The chapters in this section examine the connection between higher education and economic growth, global university rankings, education hubs, campus internationalization, and a variety of national-level systemic challenges. The subsequent chapters focus on how these cross-cutting, region-wide issues are reflected at the local level in four Asian economies—India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan—revealing what the future might hold for higher education and growth across a diverse yet interconnected region. Jouko Sarvi, practice leader for education at the Asian Development Bank, writes about the role of development partners in supporting higher education in Asia.

Asia: The Next Higher Education Superpower? is the ninth book in the Global Education Research Reports series from IIE and the AIFS Foundation. Previous books have examined higher education initiatives and exchanges in Latin American, India, and the Middle East, as well as new developments in global mobility. The book is for sale at the IIE bookstore.

About The Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of over 20 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education assists higher education institutions in developing and sustaining partnerships around the world. With nine local offices and affiliates in Asia, IIE is deeply engaged in the region. The Institute’s work in Asia includes a number of dynamic initiatives related to higher education, including scholarship and fellowship programs, workforce and professional development, institutional partnership building, educational advising, English language testing, and promotion of study abroad.

About The American Institute For Foreign Study Foundation

The American Institute For Foreign Study Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity, was established in 1967 to help young people from many nations and diverse cultures to better understand one another. The AIFS Foundation provides grants to high schools and institutions to encourage international and educational travel. The AIFS Foundation also sponsors the Academic Year in America (AYA) program, which enables international teenage students to live with an American host family while attending the local high school.


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