The spread of higher education is assumed synonymous with economic growth and development. The more economically advanced a country becomes, the more investment flows into higher education, increasing participation rates, the skill sets of graduates, productivity levels, technological innovation, and high-end value adding activities associated with the knowledge economy. Not surprisingly, governments the world over aspire to the creation of higher education systems that complement national developmental aspirations. In Asia too, these same aspirations are apparent with governments both increasing levels of public investment while also creating policy designs that encourage private sector participation and user pay models through the establishment of student finance systems – all broadly designed to increase the flow of resources into the HE sector. Higher education systems, however, are built on more than resources alone. They reflect complex intellectual ecosystems that value liberal traditions associated with dissent, heterodoxy, and eclectic intellectual inquiry; traditions often underpinned by governance systems designed to ‘firewall’ institutions and individuals from sectional interests, elite power projection, or punitive measures. While such ‘firewalls’ are in practice porous, traditions of societal tolerance embodied in institutional practices like ‘tenure’ have set governance standards typically associated with some of the world’s leading higher education systems and universities. In this paper, we explore emerging HE systems in Asia, in particular the changing mix of funding modalities designed to resource sector expansion but also the governance frameworks under which higher education systems in Asia operate. Analyzing several Asian states, we identify governance issues as the single largest obstacle to expansion of Asia’s national HE systems and their maturation in terms of quality, impact, research performance, and contributions to innovation.
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2016|