Democratizing higher education through internationalization: The case of HKU SPACE

Hei Hang Hayes TANG, Gordon Chak Pong TSUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper examines the way in which higher education participation is democratized in the entrepreneurial city of Hong Kong by the policy innovation that encompasses internationalization. There is a dearth of empirical studies about transnational education in Hong Kong, except for a few which examine students' perceptions of transnational education from a user perspective, situated in marketized conditions (Leung and Waters, 2013; Waters and Leung, 2013a; Waters and Leung, 2013b). The minimal volume of existing research has ignored the innovative aspects of democratizing higher learning by internationalization, namely the operation of international degrees by overseas universities on offshore campuses. This policy innovation by transnational institutions is significant in an era of the globalization of higher education, as access to higher education cannot be otherwise realized given the local education policies.
Design/methodology/approach: Employing documentary research, this paper presents and assesses the growth of community college international education at the University of Hong Kong and its unique facets, juxtaposing it with the marketized context of East Asian higher education. It engages in specific reviews surrounding the operational mode and academic collaborations of the international educational programs and practices at the Hong Kong University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE).
Findings: This documentary research finds that the internationalized academic profession of partner universities enables curriculum design, pedagogy, teaching ideas and assessment methods to be informed by an diversity of international academic cultures and indigenous knowledge. Through this policy innovation, international education is institutionalized in such a way that it takes Hong Kong students beyond the community college context, which is relatively localized. It also illuminates the way in which the "ideoscape" of American community colleges and international partnerships with Australian and British universities have been manifested in the Hong Kong education hub for transnational student flows and intellectual exchanges across the Asian region.
Originality/value: This paper contributes to the academic literature of higher education studies, particularly in the areas of massification and democratization, as well as their connection with internationalization and policy innovation. It also delineates various forces that are propelling the development of higher education's internationalization and massification. Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-41
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Tang, H.-H. H., & Tsui, C.-P. G. (2018). Democratizing higher education through internationalization: The case of HKU SPACE. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(1), 26-41.


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