02 May 2018

Higher education systems in the ASEAN region are becoming more open for international engagement, say a new British Council report released on 2 May 2018. 

‘The Shape of Global Higher Education’ - the British Council’s unique policy framework which assesses higher education (HE) policies in various countries - was launched at the Going Global conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

The latest report in this series focuses on the ten ASEAN member states: Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, The Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar and Lao PDR.  

It is notable that Malaysia in particular, but also Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand compare favourably with countries from across the world, in terms of the policies and infrastructure provided to support international HE. 

We reveal that national strategies for expanding and supporting international higher education engagement are often firmly embedded within other national plans, and linked to the countries’ economic priorities. In Cambodia for example, the international higher education strategy is linked with other policy areas and strategies focusing on growth, employment, equity and socio-economic and industrial development.

Promotion and support of international student mobility is a priority for many ASEAN nations, and underpins many regional objectives; in fact a number of measures in place to support student mobility focus on intra-regional opportunities, including Singapore’s ASEAN mobility scholarships.

All of the ASEAN countries already have, or are trying to develop, significant levels of inbound transnational education and are aiming to grow their HE systems often through building on international transnational education partnerships. 

Michael Peak, Head of Higher Education Systems Research, British Council, says,  

“International higher education is of clear national and regional importance within ASEAN.  The region, although diverse in many ways, including in terms of the size of the economy, and the relative ‘maturity’ of the HE systems, is united by a desire to engage further in international higher education.”

The report is the third edition of “The Shape of Global Higher Education” series which aims to build our collective knowledge and understanding of higher education policy and legislation in various countries. 

As we now have a snapshot of the policy environment in 2016 and in 2018 for five of the studied countries (Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia), this allows us to see any changes over time in the HE policy environment.

And all five countries included in 2016 and 2018 have strengthened their systemic national support for international HE engagement, in particular the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.  Some of this additional support includes recognition of transnational education qualifications (Thailand); and increased collaboration with regional recognition and quality assurance agencies (Vietnam).

The aim of the study is to allow the international higher education community to benchmark the level of support provided by national systems for international engagement and activity – including mobility of staff and students; mobility of programmes and institutions and international collaboration in research.