Referencing and borrowing from other systems: The Hong Kong education reforms

Katherine FORESTIER, Robert Damian ADAMSON, Christine HAN, Paul MORRIS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This paper analyses the role of, and approach to, policy referencing and borrowing in Hong Kong’s recent reforms that culminated in the creation of its New Academic Structure and the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. 
Main argument: It argues that Hong Kong has gone further than most jurisdictions not just in responding to global influences on education reform, but in taking explicit steps to internationally benchmark its curriculum and assessment, and in involving the global community at multiple levels in the process of education policy planning and implementation. 
Sources of evidence and method: The paper is based on the documentary analysis of policy documents in Hong Kong, and 23 interviews with key stakeholders in the policy network, including policy-makers, practitioners and community leaders. 
Discussion and conclusions: While policy referencing and borrowing in the Hong Kong context can, in part, be traced to a colonial legacy, the Special Administrative Region of China demonstrates a collaborative approach to education reform involving local and international engagement that may be relevant to other systems. Its approach was informed by a measured use of policy referencing that involved ‘horizon scanning’ of other systems’ policies and practices; international benchmarking; and engaging international expertise to facilitate implementation. Copyright © 2016 NFER.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
JournalEducational Research
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Forestier, K., Adamson, B., Han, C., & Morris, P. (2016). Referencing and borrowing from other systems: The Hong Kong education reforms. Educational Research, 58(2), 149-165. doi: 10.1080/00131881.2016.1165411


  • Curriculum reform
  • International student assessments
  • PISA
  • Policy borrowing
  • Policy referencing
  • Post-colonialism


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