What are the challenges facing higher education in Asia?

by on 週三, 03 三月 2010 10176 點擊 評論
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Higher education (HE) is an ancient institution. Generation upon generation of students have graduated from all manner of HE institutes trained in the skills required to serve society. While fields such as biology, philosophy, religion and mathematics have long been taught, advances in technology, breakthroughs in research and societal change constantly challenge HE. In order to respond to the needs of society and reflect contemporary thought, HE must forever be adapting. Globalisation and the growth of information technology are two rapidly evolving forces that that HE must not only just respond to, but also influence.

In considering HE in the early 21st century, it is important to question what benefit it should provide. Is HE nothing more than a transition between school and the workforce, a repository of technical information that if absorbed correctly, makes graduates alluring to employers? Or do the (sometimes rarefied) halls of knowledge train students in more abstract disciplines, that while stimulating for the mind, are less focused on equipping students with the skills to work in a modern office? Being the broad church that it is, there is no reason why HE can’t do both, and then some.

HE has the ability to train students in life skills. Beyond problem solving and critical, independent thought, these skills should extend to the interpersonal realm (communication, negotiation) and even the personal (stress management, self awareness). Furthermore, ideally HE should assist in the creation of a modern civil society - the layer of interface between public and private interests. In shaping graduates who have both knowledge and the ability to reason, HE aids the creation and maintenance of a healthy civil society.

While globalization may appear to have ironed out many long held differences between cultures and nations, significant differences remain, both in opportunities and expectations. In HE, this difference is manifested in university rankings. These influential indexes are eagerly examined each year and are dominated by universities in America and Europe. Foreign students are courted by universities and HE is proving to be a boon to domestic economies. In the rush fill lecture halls with students, administrators must be cautious not to compromise that quality of education that their faculties deliver.

How far do HE institutions in Asia go in educating students, both academically and as people? How does education vary between China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and the West? Where do institutions fall short and what space is there for further development? Is there gender equality in Taiwanese education system? We ask foreigners studying in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore to talk about their experiences of higher education in Asia.

As always, we invite you to reflect on these issues and offer your own opinions.

最後修改於 週三, 08 一月 2014 17:34
Paul Farrelly (范寶文)

Paul is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University in Canberra. His primary research interests are new religious movements and religious innovation in China and Taiwan.

網站: twitter.com/paul_farrelly

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