Asia Singapore, Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, Peking

   Asia a Future Hub of Higher Education  

It is often touted that the world has been shifting towards
Asia. Without a doubt, innovation has clearly got a good footing
in the East and higher education has been no exception; in the last decade the
global center of mass of the top  100 ranked universities
has been constantly shifting towards the East particularly China.

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According to 2018 QS world universities ranking out of top 100
universities 23 universities are Asian among them 11 universities are based in
People’s Republic of China (including Hong Kong). The number of students who
choose to study at a university overseas has grown-up significantly in recent
decades.  The composition of the globally
mobile student body has changed notably over the last decade, with student
mobility shifting from a largely unidirectional east-west flow to a
multidirectional movement and encompassing non-traditional sending and host

China, in particular, has invested significantly in its higher education
sector in the last few years. China’s investment
in internationalized education expands to the top government level, with a
conscious understanding that education is a means of investing in the
population and student mobility is a chance to influence the future
generation. China has built up its own universities to compete with
‘world-class’ institutions through C9 League, Project
211 and Project 985, spreading access to Chinese language and culture
learning and using English as medium of instruction by many universities for
different programs.  

National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological
University of Singapore, Peking University, Tsinghua University, The University
of Tokyo, Seoul National University, The University of Hong Kong are some of
the world class research universities of Asia where even the American and
European Students dream for getting their higher study. These universities are
as competitive as elite European and American universities in terms of quality
education, research and world class infrastructures. Japan was already one of
the global education hubs for higher study and Singapore has established itself
as world research hub from last one decade. But if you see the recent trend and
development Chinese Universities have already uplifted them compare to other
Asian elite universities and established as the world class research institutes
and higher study centre as well as future heart of world higher study and
research hubs. Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan universities of China are just behind
few British and American world renowned universities in world universities
ranking as well as in terms of quality education and research for higher
study.  It is a time to view China not
just as a follower but as potentially a global boss in higher education.

Governments particularly those in non-traditional host countries (Mostly
Asian) continuously  developing a extensive
arrays of policies to develop the appeal of their higher education sector to foreign
students and scholars, to develop research and teaching links with
international partners with the aim of increasing institutional visibility.
Japan and China, in particular, have targeted international students as a way
to achieve a number of national aims, including cheering the internationalization
of higher education in their countries (in part as a tool to drive up research
and teaching standards), developing links between Japanese and Chinese
universities and peer institutions overseas, and developing a workforce that
meets the needs of their industries.

Chinese universities are internationalizing in many directions. China’s
President Xi Jinping had launched numbers of new international initiatives in
2015–16, reflecting a big push for China to develop closer links with other
countries across a range of areas.

As the broad outline of student mobility slowly changes, political and
demographic changes continue to shape government policies towards international
students. In Asia, for instance, ASEAN nations are working to support local
students to study in Asia rather than going to western countries’ universities,
and already, have launched a ‘Common Space of Higher Education’ to promote
cross-border student mobility and academic incorporation across Southeast Asia.


The international population of students who move to another country to
study continuously rising. The number of Students studying abroad reached
almost 5 million in 2014, more than double the 2.1 million in 2000, with an
annual rise of 10%. The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) has anticipated that, with demographic
changes, international student mobility is likely to reach 8 million students
per year by 2025. The balance of host nation is beginning to change which was
constant over past decade. From several years the USA remains the trendiest
destination for international students, followed by the UK, Germany, Australia
and France. However, the USA and UK’s conventional market share is waning, with
China, Japan, and South Korea increasing in popularity among Asian and African
students for higher study. Among Asian higher education hubs Japan and Korea
enjoy high numbers of international students from regional countries: 81% of
international students in Japan and 75% in Korea come from other Asian countries.
 International student mobility is changing
with conventional destinations losing market share.

Recently developed geopolitical environments such as
Brexit and the US’s  taking back  hand from multilateral trade and cooperation generates
waves of uncertainty in higher study education concerning international
cooperation, the free movement of students, education, scientific knowledge and
ideas. China is utilizing this situation and 
has already introduced new international initiatives with its New Silk
Road (One Belt One Road) project, which could potentially spread and incorporate
important areas of the world across the Euro-Asian continents, but likely on
new and different conditions, and also for higher study education.

The size of China’s higher education, research and
development system and the speed at which it develops to global standards is
unstoppable. China has already made a ‘Double World-Class Project’ aiming to
have 40 world-class universities by mid-century, will have an impact on its
major competitors globally, not least as it seeks to cooperate with academic
partners along the Silk Road.

The economic powerhouse is moving from the old mechanized
countries to Asian countries.  And there are
good reasons to believe the powerhouse of higher education will move too.


Jiwan Kafle

Msc Communication Studies, University of
the Punjab, Lahore

Gmail: [email protected]