Abstract: During 1980, many Western countries launched public administration reforms. These reform waves also blew over to many Asian countries. With the advent of globalization and the rise of knowledge-based society, education and innovation are regarded as the driving forces behind social and economic growth and development. To enhance the national capacity, education reforms have also become common agendas among nation states since the 1980s. This paper aims at critically reviewing and comparing major policies and strategies of the higher education reform adopted by the respective government in Greater China, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan and Singapore. The key research questions are why these countries attempted to reform their higher education and if these countries achieve the desired results and comply with good governance. In this paper, four areas, “Rule of Law,” “Transparency,” “Effectiveness,” and “Accountability” are evaluated to examine how these selected cases’ governance in higher education have been implemented in the past 30 years.
Keywords: greater China, governance in higher education, good governance, rule of law, transparency, effectiveness, accountability
摘要(Claire Y.H. Tao: 大中华区高等教育治理比较研究): 许多西方国家自1980年代开始改革公共行政。这波的改革浪潮也吹到了许多亚洲国家。随着全球化及知识社会时代来临，教育及创新被视为是社会经济成长与发展的动能。为了提升国力，许多国家也自1980年代开始改革教育。本篇研究主要审视与比较大中华地区(中国、香港、澳门、台湾与新加坡)各个政府高教改革的政策与策略。 主要针对这些国家高教改革的原因以及是否这些国家的改革达到预期的结果和是否遵守善治来做研究。本篇研究使用四个面向:法治、透明、效力、 课责来检验这些国家在过去三十年间的高教治理实施情况。
关键词:大中华、高等教育、治理 、善治、法治、透明、效力、 课责
摘要(Claire Y.H. Tao: 大中華區高等教育治理比較研究): 許多西方國家自1980年代開始改革公共行政。這波的改革浪潮也吹到了許多亞洲國家。隨著全球化及知識社會時代來臨，教育及創新被視為是社會經濟成長與發展的動能。為了提升國力，許多國家也自1980年代開始改革教育。本篇研究主要審視與比較大中華地區(中國、香港、澳門、台灣與新加坡)各個政府高教改革的政策與策略。 主要針對這些國家高教改革的原因以及是否這些國家的改革達到預期的結果和是否遵守善治來做研究。本篇研究使用四個面向:法治、透明、效力、 課責來檢驗這些國家在過去三十年間的高教治理實施情況。
關鍵字:大中華、高等教育、治理 、善治、法治、透明、效力、 課責
Zusammenfassung (Claire Y.H. Tao: Eine vergleichende Studie zur Governance im Hochschulbereich im Grossraum China): Im Laufe des Jahres 1980 leiteten viele westliche Länder Reformen der öffentlichen Verwaltung ein. Diese Reformwellen schlugen auch auf viele asiatische Länder über. Mit dem Aufkommen der Globalisierung und dem Aufstieg der wissensbasierten Gesellschaft gelten Bildung und Innovation als die treibenden Kräfte für das soziale und wirtschaftliche Wachstum und die Entwicklung. Um die nationalen Kapazitäten zu stärken, sind Bildungsreformen seit den 1980er Jahren auch unter den Nationalstaaten zu einer gemeinsamen Agenda geworden. Dieses Papier zielt darauf ab, die wichtigsten Politiken und Strategien der Hochschulreform, die von der jeweiligen Regierung im Großraum China, einschließlich des chinesischen Festlandes, Hongkong, Macao sowie Taiwan und Singapur, verabschiedet wurden, kritisch zu überprüfen und zu vergleichen. Die wichtigsten Forschungsfragen sind, warum diese Länder versuchten, ihre Hochschulbildung zu reformieren, und ob diese Länder die gewünschten Ergebnisse erzielen und sich an eine gute Regierungsführung halten. In diesem Papier werden die vier Bereiche “Rechtsstaatlichkeit”, “Transparenz”, “Wirksamkeit” und “Rechenschaftspflicht” evaluiert, um zu untersuchen, wie die Governance dieser ausgewählten Fälle in der Hochschulbildung in den letzten 30 Jahren umgesetzt wurde.
Schlüsselwörter: Großraum China, Governance im Hochschulbereich, gute Regierungsführung, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, Transparenz, Wirksamkeit, Rechenschaftspflicht
Ресюме (КлэйрЙ. Х. Тао «Сравнительный анализ организации управления в системе высшего образования в крупных территориальных единицах Китая»): В течение 1980 года многие западные страны начали реформы государственного управления. Эта тенденция охватила и многие азиатские страны. Глобализация и придание высокого статуса обществу, базирующему на знании, определили образование и инновации в качестве движущих сил социального и экономического роста. Что укрепить национальные ресурсы, с 1980–х годов реформы в области образования стали основной повесткой дня и для национальных государств. Основная цель данной статьи состоит в том, чтобы проанализировать и сравнить ключевые стратегии и политические рычаги реформы высшего образования, предпринятой управленческим аппаратом на территории Китая, включая его материковую часть, специальные административные районы Гонконг, Макао, а также Тайвань и Сингапур. Магистральным в исследовании является вопрос, почему была предпринята попытка реформирования системы высшего образования, были ли достигнуты желаемые результаты и какую роль в этом сыграло государственное администрирование. Анализ проводится через четыре категории: «легитимность», «транспарентность», «эффективность», «подотчетность». Они привлекаются для того, чтобы определить, как на означенных территориях осуществлялась организация управления в сфере высшего образования в последние тридцать лет.
Ключевые слова: Гросс-Китай, управление в сфере высшего образования, добросовестное управление, верховенство закона, прозрачность, эффективность, подотчетность
In the post-Second World War period, the state continued playing the role of an engine of economic progress; however, after the global economic crisis in the mid-1970s, the notion about the governments’ competence to perform this responsibility began changing during the 1980s. The government, characterized by hierarchical and top-down administrative processes in the making of public policy, was found ineffective and inefficient in delivering the policy objectives relating to progress and well-being of the people. The United Kingdom, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the U.S. then started public administration reform, as these two countries had suffered heavily from economic recession and tax revolts. A fast-spreading desire to make government act more like a business in order to save money, increase efficiency, and oblige public bureaucracies to act more responsively towards their citizenry arose (Pollitt, & Bouckaert, 2011). Next, the governments of New Zealand and Australia joined the movement. (Gruening, 2001) Their successes pushed other western countries to launch major programs of central government reform by reference to private sector management practices from 1980s. It later became known as the New Public Management (NPM). It is a term which has come to cover a very wide range of reforms in an equally broad spread of countries.
As for Asian countries, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War proved the authoritarian model of government to be a failure. Some communist countries, such as China, which had experienced a rule-directed, party controlled and centralized bureaucracy with a hierarchical government structure, needed to change their public administration system. In addition, due to the 1997 Asian economic crisis, the validity of the previous “East Asian miracle” led by the state-centric governmental practice started to be doubted. Hence, Asian countries have been also riding the global movement of public sector reforms.
Meanwhile, with the advent of globalization and the rise of knowledge-based society, additional pressures have been generated for nation states to improve or maintain their competitiveness in the global market environment. A knowledge-based society is a society which emphasizes the importance of knowledge, education and innovation to drive social and economic growth and development. Educational reforms have become common agendas among nation states since the 1980s in order to enhance their relevant resources (Zhou, & Luo, 2018; Mok, & Welch, 2003; Shin, Postiglione, & Huang, 2015).
Most of the existing literature or academic discourses related to public sector reform, governance, or education reform are based on the western perspective, few relevant case studies of Asian countries have been conducted. Since the author is from the Greater China region and has noticed similar traditions or cultural practices shared in Greater China, this paper aims to compare each society’s higher education governance in this region, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Taiwan, and see if their reforms achieve good governance to better respond to the changes and needs of society.
As the traditional government started to be questioned and criticized in many developed and developing countries, many countries moved away from traditional hierarchical forms of organization and revised their relationship with all non- government actors (in other words, civil society) in a more participatory direction.
New modes of governing in which a multitude of public and private actors from different policy levels govern society through networks and soft policy instruments, in other words, governance, gradually gained popularity (Sørensen, 2006). As governance is generally recognized as an important determinant of a country’s long-term economic growth and development, it is important to pay attention to good governance.
The concept of good governance has gained prominence around the world in recent times. It has become a buzzword in the vocabulary of polity and administrative reform, mainly due to the importance given to it by the international community. Like governance, according to United Nations, “good governance” has no single and exhaustive definition, and there is no delimitation of its scope which commands universal acceptance. Good governance has been said to encompass: the rule of law, effective participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.
However, there is a significant degree of consensus that good governance relates to political and institutional processes and outcomes which are deemed necessary to achieve the goals of development. Good governance has been said to be the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law.
According to Tripathi (2017), good governance is an approach to government that signifies a participative manner of governing which functions in a responsible, accountable, and transparent manner based on the principles of efficiency, legitimacy, and consensus for the purpose of promoting the rights of individual citizens and the public interest. This indicates the existence of political will for ensuring the material welfare of society and sustainable development with social justice.
Historical Review of Higher Education Reform in Greater China
The term Greater China has several meanings, but the use in this paper is narrowly defined as referring to a geographical concept which consists of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore, where ethnic Chinese comprise the majority of the population. In this sense, the term is used to describe the ethnic and associated political, economic and cultural ties among these Chinese societies (Harding 1993; Cheung 2013).
In Mainland China, every sector of the society was centralized before the “open door” policy. With the increasing development of neo-liberalism and globalism, not only economic reforms have begun to take place, but China’s governance of higher education has also undergone substantial reforms in the decades since the late 1970s. (Han, & Xu, 2019) Greater autonomy was introduced into the HE sector to give higher education institutions (HEIs) the necessary freedom to function in a market economy. In the last decade or so, the Chinese Government has allowed for the rise of the market in the education sector and promoted the establishment of private educational institutions.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Education’s official statement, the overall objectives of higher education reform since 1990s are to streamline the relationship between government, society and higher education institutions with the aim of developing a new system in which the State is responsible for overall planning and macro management, while higher education institutions follow legislation and exercise autonomy in providing education according to the needs of society (Chinese Ministry of Education). In general, the changing patterns of governance can be observed in the following three areas, privatization of educational provision, financial diversification and decentralization of administration (Cai, 2013).
In old China, higher education grew slowly in terms of institutions and enrollment. By 1949, only 205 institutions had been established and total enrollment was 117, 000 students (Hao, & Long, 2000). By 2010, there were 2723 HEIs. The system has experienced rapid growth, particularly during the past three decades (1978-2014). The number of college students increased by 7.76 times from 3,408,764 in 1998 to 26,474,679 in 2015. Nowadays, China’s higher education system has experienced the second highest rate of college enrollment globally (Shin, 2018).
China’s private sector dates back to ancient China. In modern China before 1949, there were 81 private institutions. Unfortunately, the private sector disappeared in 1952. The first privateinstitution of contemporary China was established in 1984, along with the reemergence of the private economy. The change indicated that the privateinstitutions were officially accepted and given legitimacy. In the mid-1990s, China realized the importance of promoting the private sector and issued a law on promoting the private sector. Those private HEIs were funded by businesses or individuals in the private sector.
Before 1992, Chinese HEIs were defined as public sectors affiliated with governmental departments. At that time, HEIs were highly controlled by governments at all levels, and there was no institutional autonomy. This centralist mode was characterized by (a) a single system of state ownership (b) vague responsibilities and obligations between institutions and governments; (c) resource distribution by command and planning.
In 1993, the central government released a historical document the Mission outline of the development and reform of Chinas education clearly stating that the national policy was to actively encourage and support social agencies and citizens to establish schools according to law, provide guidance, and improve administration. The Mission outline also stated that government agencies had to change their functioning mode from direct control to managing schools through legislation, funding, planning, advice on policies, and other necessary means.
In 1998, the Law on Higher Education again stipulated the general principles behind the policy of decentralization, calling for more diverse modes of educational services and allowing far more flexibility for local and provincial governments to run higher education. To carry out the policy of strengthening the nation through science and education, MOC proposed the Action Plan to Vitalize Education into the 21st Century in 1998.
According to the “2020 Outline”, HEIs are required to establish a new type of management mechanism and a modern university system by reforming and improving organizational governance.
Higher education in Hong Kong has existed for more than a century. The oldest current institution is the University of Hong Kong, founded in 1911. The motives of those who provided the earliest higher education in Hong Kong were largely philanthropic. The scale of provision, in terms of the population of Hong Kong, was very small. But gradually it became clear that Hong Kong’s needs could not be met solely by private benefactors, and other sources of finance had to be found – principally government, but also employers and, in most cases, the students themselves (University Grants Committee, 1996)
Higher education (HE) in Hong Kong remained elitist during most of the British colonial period. The HE system responded to the industry needs and underwent the first round of expansion during the late colonial era. During this expansion period, eight education institutions (HEIs), which were funded by the government via the University Grants Committee (UGC), became self-accredited, and the participation rate in HE increased from 2% in the 1970s to 18% in 1994. The second wave of HE expansion began after China resumed the sovereignty of Hong Kong, and the city became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) in 1997. In 2000, Hong Kong sought to increase the participation rate of tertiary education to 60% by 2010. Hence, the then Chief Executive decided to expand the higher education sector by doubling sub-degree places by the year 2010. This sub-degree level of HE sector has exponentially grown since then, which led the growth of private higher education in Hong Kong. There are currently 21 local degree-awarding post-secondary education institutions in Hong Kong, 9 of which are funded by the public and the other 12 are self-financing post-secondary institutions.
However, the quest for gaining wide access to HE is not necessarily associated with an increase in public expenditures of this sector. As SAR, Hong Kong, unlike China, has continued its colonial tradition, maintaining minimal government intervention and laisser-faire economic orientation in higher education governance since early 2000s. The Hong Kong government did not increase direct public investment or strong coordination of its regional education hub initiatives to achieve its goals of expanding higher education and developing transnational education. (Lo, 2017) Instead, it relies on marketization, competitions and self-financed institutions to achieve the above-mentioned goals.
Besides moving towards mass HE, Hong Kong government also emphasized internationalization in its HE reform initiatives to respond to HE globalization. Measures have been adopted to increase non-local student participation for achieving the objective of Hong Kong as a regional education hub. Quality assurance systems were also introduced to ensure that the UGC-funded institutions are more efficient, more accountable to the public, more cost-effective, and more responsive to socio-economic needs. Hong Kong also established the new Innovation and Technology Bureau in 2015 to address the increasingly competitive regional and global environment. This bureau was established to encourage universities and industries to work together in projects related to knowledge transfer.
Before 1981, Macau had no higher education institutions and all citizens wishing to receive higher education had to go to other countries. The first modern higher institution of Macau, the University of East Asia (UEA), was established in 1981. However, in the beginning, UEA was a private university which recruited students and addressed the educational needs from around the region, particularly from Hong Kong. After the joint Sino-Portuguese declaration was signed in 1987, the nurturing of local talents was defined as an important ingredient for stability and transition to the handover era, while the public demanded greater government input in education. As a result, in 1991 the Government of Macau acquired UEA and renamed it to University of Macau (UM). The target audience of higher education focused this time on the local population, aiming to develop and upgrade the local skills and capacity. All courses were employment-oriented and “localization” was exhibited by increasing subjects and postgraduate programs linked to the local needs. (Open Access Government, 2018)
Higher education flourished remarkably over the past three decades. Macau has 10 tertiary educational institutions, four of them are public and six are private. During the 2016/2017 academic year, there were 2,265 teaching staff and 32,750 registered students in these institutions, with 267 programs including doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degree programs, higher diplomas, postgraduate certificates and diploma programs. In addition, 19 overseas institutions were granted approval in 2016 to offer 34 tertiary educational programs. (Higher Education Bureau, 2020)
After the political transition of Macau from a Portuguese territory to a Special Administrative Region of China in 1999, the city experienced rapid economic development. Under the formula of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ Macau enjoys a high level of autonomy as a Special Administrative Region of China with its own legal system, currency and autonomy over all matters of internal affairs including education (Bray, & Kwo, 2003). Unlike other parts of the world where governments have decreased their expenditure on higher education, Macau is privileged and supports its higher education through both the public and private sectors.
The Macau government receives large amounts of revenue from taxation and is therefore able to increase its expenditure on higher education. Although educational opportunities are plentiful, distribution of resources is inequitable. According to Lau and Yuen (2014), it is observed that one institution, the University of Macau, is getting the largest share of the pie. This uneven distribution is the result of the government strategy to increase the competitiveness of this particular university for the vision of evolving UM into a world class university.
In 2009, the Beijing government decided to grant a piece of land to Macau for the development of a new UM campus. Such generous support from the Beijing government and the Macau SAR government for public higher education demonstrates the awareness of nurturing educated individuals for the knowledge-based economy.
In 1950s, after ROC government retreated from Mainland China, higher education in Taiwan was developed for nation building and economical and political development. The strong demand for technical talents also surfaced due to robust economic growth in the 1960s. The government endeavored to set up public institutions for post-secondary education and decreased restrictions on the establishment of private institutions.
Since 1950, the higher education system of Taiwan has evolved from an elite system to a universal one today. Educational authorities in Taiwan have been expanding higher education since the 1990s to meet the demands of economic transformation and to meet cultural expectations. The number of universities in Taiwan increased from 7 in 150 to 164 in 2008 (Evaluation bimonthly 2015). Only 28% of the young people in Taiwan were allowed to enter universities in 1995, but the proportion rose to 70% in 2013.
According to Chen, & Chin (2016),
After the lifting of martial law in 1987, the government began to consider neo-liberal policies. As higher education expanded in the 1990, the government started to restrain its spending and increased the deregulation, decentralization, and the internationalization of higher education institutions (HEIs). The revised University Law of 1994 modified universities away from the previously centralized model of governance toward being more autonomous entities. (Chen, & Chin, 2016, p.117)
According to Chang, Wu, Ching, & Tang (2009),
After the increase in higher education… In order to reduce the government’s burden of higher education financing, the MoE has adopted a new policy to finance all national universities in Taiwan by providing only 80% of the total budget, while leaving the remaining 20% to the financial resources of individual universities. In addition, the Educational Funding System was introduced to ensure the efficient use of government funding. In the Educational Funding System, all revenues and expenditures are supervised and managed by the Board of Educational Funding with the aim of promoting the independence of HEIs and the efficiency of funding management. (Chang, Wu, Ching, & Tang, 2009, p. 48)
With the pressure to compete internationally and to attain global recognition, Taiwan government also began to introduce market competition mechanisms in 2000 to supplement the ordinary funding scheme. When the universities apply for those funding schemes, MoE would evaluate their application proposal, executive plan, and performance to make sure the universities move in the right direction and are accountable for their actions (ibid).
A review of the development of higher education in Taiwan over the past few decades shows that governance in higher education has transitioned from a centralized administration to government-regulated and market-driven management; yet, authority has remained the primary governance tool of Taiwan’s government.
Since gaining independence in 1965, Singapore has pulled itself out of poverty and forged an economic powerhouse. Since the late 1990s, the city-state placed more emphasis on reforming and restructuring its higher education sector to achieve the status of “Asia’s global education hub” as part of the transformation toward a knowledge-based economy. The sector experienced massive expansion in the 1980s and 1990s with a huge rise in student participation rates from a mere 5 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in 2001. (Department of Statistics Singapore, 2002)
In such a context, the education hub strategy was described as a means to increase national income and enhance national competitiveness under the slogan of making Singapore ‘the Boston of the East.’ To uphold this aspiration, the government launched the Global Schoolhouse strategy in 2002 and thus launched a series of policies to reform its higher education sector. The strategy was seen as an important measure to open up the territory of the city-state to the presence of overseas Higher Education providers and consumers. The government proactively invited globally prestigious universities to establish branch campuses in the city-state. However, there is a growing sentiment among Singaporeans against this “open-door” policy, as local university places are lost to international students. Such a sentiment forces the Singaporean government to make changes in its strategic direction. In this context, the “Singaporeans first” notion emerged and the focus of the Global Schoolhouse policy has shifted from managing global challenges to finding the right balance between global and local agendas (Tan, 2011). These initiatives demonstrate that Singapore adopted and insisted on a state-centric model in implementing the Global Schoolhouse strategy.
Singapore government has been increasing the higher education budget as universities have contributed much towards economic growth (Gopinathan, & Lee, 2011). The government wished to cultivate human capital to compensate for the lack of natural resources and space. Singapore has successfully transformed an export-oriented economy manufacturing electronics, petrochemicals and component and precision engineering, to an economy focused on services, innovation and research since 1991. (Loke, Chia, & Gopinathan, 2017) As a small city state with a few universities, Singapore was able to put policies in place at the national and the institutional levels between 1999-2009 without much opposition from institutions and segments which were left at a disadvantage.
Generally speaking, although this city state implemented a series of market reforms, such as centralized decentralization”, entrepreneurialization, globalization, internationalization, marketization, and massification to expose Singaporean educational institutions to competition, the Singapore state continues to play a strong role in steering the reform process and ensuring that the plans of individual universities meet the goals of the national policies.
Comparative Study of Higher Education Governance in Greater China
According to the United Nations, good governance has 8 major characteristics: participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus oriented, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, and accountability.
Because it is impossible to list all the above-mentioned characteristics in a condensed way with all necessary details, this paper will focus on the formal actors involved in decision-making and implementation as well as the formal structures that have been set in place to make and implement the decision. Good governance in higher education in this paper will be measured and examined by the following attributes only: rule of law, transparency, effectiveness, and accountability.
These four attributes cover the dimensions of the state’s institutions and structures, decision-making processes, capacity to implement, and the relationship between government, officials and the public.
Rule of Law and Transparency
First of all, rule of law means that any related laws are declared and implemented for impartial enforcement. Transparency means that stakeholders understand and have access to the means and manner in which decisions are made, especially if they are directly affected by such decisions. This information must be provided in an understandable and accessible format, usually communicated through the media.
All the major related regulations declared in these countries in Greater China in the past 30 years are retrieved and extracted from their authorities’ websites, online documents, publications, etc. in order to clearly evaluate how each government in Greater China has administered the rule of law and transparency of government policy in their HE reform.
By doing this, we can also assess if the info is open, accessible, easy-to-understand for the public or stakeholders to scrutinize their education policy-making development to compare their transparency level.
The Chinese government holds the belief that education is the basis of national development and modernization. In China, there are many laws and regulations in education. They are regarded as effective ways of steering and monitoring implementation across a large and complex system. The government uses laws and regulations to protect access to education and guarantee high-quality education.
The Ministry of Education often drafts these laws and submits them for approval by the National People’s Congress. Once approved, the State Council enacts the law. Finally, the National People’s Congress formalizes local policies and implementation measures at the respective levels.
All the related law and policies from the year of 1999, reports from the year of 2017 and statistics from the year of 2010 can be found and accessed from the official websites of China’s Ministry of Education.
|Year||Regulation||Purpose to stipulate the law|
|1985||Decision on the Reform of the Education Structure||A shift of financial responsibilities from the central government to local levels.|
|1990||Draft Regulation of Higher Education Institution Evaluation||Evaluate and quality control higher education.|
|1993||Decision on the Development
of the Tertiary Industry
|Education was part of Tertiary Industry and those who invested in it would own and benefit from it.|
|1993||Programme for Education Reform and Development in China||The central government would refrain from exercising direct control over education|
|1993||Mission outline of the development and reform of China’s education||Actively encourage and support social agencies and citizens to establish schools|
|1998||Law on Higher Education||
|2003||Action Plan of Education Innovation 2003-2007||Require all HEIs undergo quality evaluation every 5 years.|
|2010||The National Outline for Medium-and-Long-Term Educational Reform and Development (2010-2020)||Build a modern Chinese model of university governance as an important task of higher education reform.|
|2017||Double First Class University Plan||Aim at comprehensively developing elite Chinese universities and their individual faculty departments into world-class institutions by the end of 2050.|
Source: Website of MOE, China, from http://en.moe.gov.cn/documents/laws_policies/
Higher education in Hong Kong is managed by Education Bureau.
|Year||Regulation||Purpose to stipulate the law|
|2000||Review of Education System Reform Proposal||
|2000||Learning for Life and Learning through Life: Reform
Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong
|2004||Policy Address||Aim to promote HK as Asia’s world city|
|2016||Pilot Scheme on the Articulation of Hong Kong Sub-degree Graduates to Huaqiao University||Open up opportunities for Hong Kong sub-degree graduates to be articulated to Mainland institutions|
Source: Education Bureau, the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, from https://www.edb.gov.hk/en/edu-system/postsecondary/policy-doc/index.html
Higher education in Macau is managed by the Tertiary Education Services Office (GAES). It was established in 1992. According to GAES, its major responsibilities include to initiate and to formulate policies for the development of higher education; to assist and promote higher education; and to help evaluate the performances of institutions of higher education.
However, now it is the Higher Education Bureau under the Office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture who is responsible for assistance, follow-up and the development of higher education in Macau. It was formerly the Tertiary Education Services Office (GAES), and was renamed the Higher Education Bureau in 2019, through the reorganization of functions and structure.
|Year||Regulation||Purpose to stipulate the law|
|1991||Higher Education Regulation||
|1992||Amendment of Higher Education Regulation||Amend the previous regulation from 1991.|
|1994||Regulation of Master and Doctoral Degree achievement at the University of Macau||Govern the organization of degrees in different categories, the criteria for their conferral, and other related matters|
|1998||Establishment of Tertiary Education Services Office||Regulate the structure, personnel, and finances of the Tertiary Education Services Offices|
|1999||Higher Education Programmes Conducted by Non-Local Higher Education Institutions||Regulate how overseas institutions/distance learning in Macau should operate, be approved, etc.|
|2003||Verification of Academic Qualification||Check, verify, and recognize authenticity of the diplomas/certificates|
|2017||Higher Education Quality
Source: Website of GAES, from http://www.dses.gov.mo/en/e_law_title.html
Department of Higher Education from Ministry of Education takes the responsibility for assisting and guiding HEIs’ development and quality for carrying out their respective missions and mandates.
|Year||Regulation||Purpose to stipulate the law|
|1994||University Act||Grant more autonomy and flexibility to colleges and universities in Taiwan.|
|2002||Plan for Enhancing International Competitiveness||Encourage international exchange activities, improving students’ English proficiency and encourage colleges and universities to recruit international students|
|2005||Teaching Excellence Project||Improve teaching quality of HEIs.|
|2005||Development Plan for World Class University and Research Centers of Excellence||Establish internationally competitive research universities through concentrating extra funds in a small amount of chosen research universities.|
|2018||Higher Education Sprout Project||
Source: Website of MOE, Taiwan, from https://english.moe.gov.tw/lp-48-1.html
In Singapore, the Higher Education Division of the Ministry of Education (MOE)
overseas the provision of postsecondary education, which includes the polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), the autonomous and private universities and publicly subsidized institutions.
|Year||Regulation||Purpose to stipulate the law|
|1997||Thinking Schools, Learning Nation||
|1998||World Class University programme||Seek to position Singapore as the “Boston of the East.”|
|2000||Fostering Autonomy and Accountability in Universities||Enhance autonomy and accountability for universities|
|2002||Global Schoolhouse Strategy||Open up the territory of Singapore to the presence of overseas higher education providers and consumers.|
|2005||The University Corporatization Act||Change publicly funded universities into companies to enhance their autonomy and accountability while government retains its control over the higher education sector.|
Source: Website of MOE, Singapore, from: https://www.moe.gov.sg/about/org-structure/higher-education-group/hep
Effectiveness and Accountability
In this paper, effectiveness refers to processes and institutions producing results which meet needs while making the best use of resources. Accountability refers to the act of holding public officials or service providers responsible for processes and outcomes and imposing sanctions if specified outputs and outcomes are not delivered.
Facing the changing economic and political dynamics of the modern world, governments in the selected countries in this paper are all forced to improve their competitiveness in the global market environment with the following major reforms: massification and privatization of HE to provide more educational opportunities to the public; establishing world-class university status to maintain qualified faculty; academically gifted and successful students; excellence in research; quality teaching at an international standard; high levels of funding; well-equipped facilities; internationalization to provide an educational practice within an environment that integrates a global perspective. In the following study, we will only focus the above-mentioned reforms to assess the effectiveness and accountability.
China has made considerable strides in advancing tertiary education over the last decade, with the number of institutions more than doubling and government expenditures increasing from $52.66 billion in 2003 to $311 billion in 2014. With a great number of universities existing in mainland China, voices demanding greater respect in the global community have become stronger and stronger. Some Chinese universities actually have worldwide reputations, but they rarely have decent positions in the rankings and league tables (Shen, 2018). Therefore, the 211 Project and 985 Project, initiatives designed to raise research standards and cultivate people with talent, demonstrate the effort Chinese leaders are making to modernize the country’s education system and develop elite Chinese universities into world-class institutions (China Power Team, 2016).
According to Chen (2011), China pays attention to two aspects in terms of higher education internationalization. One is sending students to study abroad, and hosting foreign students. From 1978 to 2014, 459,800 Chinese students have studied overseas, which ranks China above all other countries in the world. (MOE, 2014). Meanwhile, 356,499 international students from 200 countries studied in Chinese institutions of higher education in 2013. Most recently, the Chinese government announced its goal of increasing the number of international students studying in China to be tripled within the next five years (Lin, 2019).
The other method for boosting internationalization in higher education is Chinese-foreign cooperation in running schools. Advanced patterns and professional course settlement can be borrowed and learned through Chinese-foreign cooperation in running schools. According to the statistics, there are more than 1,000 Chinese-foreign cooperations in running schools and projects across China’s 28 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities as of 2005 (Jiang, & Feng, 2006).
While China’s higher education institutions follow state’s legislation and exercise autonomy in providing education according to the needs of society, China has recently experienced rising unemployment rates of university graduates as a result of HE expansion.
Due to its small size and population, the current number of HEIs in Macau is deemed sufficient.
The University of Macau is criticized for receiving disproportionate amounts of educational resources, but this uneven distribution is the result of the government strategy to increase the competitiveness of this particular university for the vision of evolving UM into a world class university. Without failing the government’ expectation, University of Macau, was ranked 351-400 in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking in 2018. Macau is a part of China but differs from the mainland in laws, currencies, and educational systems. Macau can be considered to be a product of hybrid systems which combine Western elements into Chinese settings—between domestic and foreign. Macau plays a dual role as a destination in itself and as a stepping-stone for mainland students’ international mobility. (Li, 2015)
The Hong Kong government adoption of managerialism has introduced management reforms and adopted a market-oriented approach in running education, bringing the efficiency and effectiveness of educational service delivery to Hong Kong.
According to Wong (2018), Hong Kong’s internationalization agenda, driven by the University Grants Committee (UGC) which controls the funding of universities and various international ranking agencies by incorporating internationalization as an indicator of good performance, can be observed in the following dimensions.
Firstly, internationalization focuses on the recruitment of non-local or international students. Compared to ten years ago, the numbers of non-local students studying in the UGC-funded institutions in Hong Kong have increased at least fivefold. However, the majority of non-local students originated from the Chinese mainland. Although this shows that Hong Kong can attract a significant number of Chinese students, there is still much room for local universities to increase the proportion of students from Asia and other parts of the world under the wider goal of true internationalization.
The second dimension of internationalization refers to the integration of Hong Kong’s universities into an active network with international counterparts by demonstrating their “world-class” performance through international rankings. Many universities in Hong Kong have been well ranked with six Hong Kong universities among the top 400 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. These universities also made good use of their institutional reputation to explore markets for higher education outside Hong Kong, especially on the mainland. They have also explored opportunities to collaborate with Chinese universities to jointly offer self-financed postgraduate programs and courses in China. Local universities also utilize their international prestige to build ties with overseas partners to offer programs and undertake collaborative research projects. Hong Kong higher education is well regarded in the world due to its goal of creating an educational hub in the region and maintaining international competitiveness.
In the 1990s, when Hong Kong was still a British colony, new accountability policies were enacted, notably the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the Teaching and Learning Quality Processes Review (TLQPR). Hong Kong was the ﬁrst among the East Asian nations to apply quality measures to monitor its higher education sector (Mok, & Lee, 2002).
In short, while the Hong Kong government has adopted a relatively liberal approach in the massification process of higher education and the development of transnational education, they also used varied forms of quality assurance and audits based on the ideas of “value for money” and “fitness for purpose” to ensure that HEIs remain accountable to the public.
As noted above, Taiwan’s higher education has expanded at an unprecedented pace, admitting more students rather than limiting it to the elites. Although in 2005 the MOE established a professional evaluation institute, the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT), to train professional staff and set up standards and database, the rapid expansion of the higher education system caused some unexpected consequences. For one, the overly rapid upgrade of some vocational/technical colleges into universities changed the nature of some HEIs. This allowed them to convert into “comprehensive universities” at the expense of their original educational foundation for vocational and technical training, which had formerly been at the core of Taiwan’s economic development strategy (Chou, 2008; Hayhoe, 2002). Another impact came from the government’s introduction of market competition mechanisms, which accelerated the uneven distribution of resources among public/private and elite/non-elite HEIs and eventually increased social stratification in Taiwan (Chou, & Wang, 2012; Chen, & Chen, 2009). In addition, an excess of university graduates has resulted in a gap between higher education and the job market due to the increasing numbers of students who have difficulties in finding a job in their university discipline. The unemployment rate of university graduates increased from 2.7 percent in 1993 to 5.84 percent in 2012. (Chou, 2014).
Since the 1990s, the Taiwanese government began emphasizing the internationalization of higher education. The ‘White Paper on Higher Education’ was promulgated in 2001. This document argued that Taiwanese higher education should promote high academic standards, increase the recruitment of international students, and offer English curricula to mitigate its lack of internationalization. With Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2002, policies concerning higher education internationalization were further emphasized to improve Taiwan’s competition with other countries and expand its higher education market. The Taiwanese government designed the ‘Plan for Promoting Universities’ International Competitiveness’ in 2002 with the goal to increase the university recruitment of overseas students and the provision of international courses. Afterwards, follow-up policies were promulgated, including the ‘Program for Extending the Recruitment of Overseas Students’ in 2004, the ‘Southern Sunshine Policy’ (i.e. the extension of the recruitment of overseas students from Southeast Asia) in 2008, and the ‘Study-in-Taiwan Enhancement Program’ in 2011. The plan proposed establishing Taiwan as a higher education hub in East Asia and set a goal of enrolling 150,000 overseas students by 2020, which would account for 10% of the total number of university students in Taiwan (MOE, 2011; Liao, 2018).
In an attempt to provide universities with more incentives for pursuing excellence and to offset the declining quality of universities due to rapid expansion and public budget cuts, the MOE launched the World-Class Research University Project and Higher Education for Excellence plan in 2003-2014. Seven years after the plan started, 11 of the universities subsidized by this plan are ranked in the world’s top 500 universities as well as the world’s top 100 universities in the global university rankings as of the end of 2013 (UK’s The Times Higher Education World Ranking and Quacquarelli Symonds, QS) (Ministry of Education, 2014).
Singapore’s education system has been lauded for its achievements in delivering quality universal schooling to its citizens. It consistently tops international educational rankings, produces students who win international competitions, and churns out graduates who are among the most desired in the world. From the website of Singapore’s Ministry of Education, their policy considerations are based on economic relevance, quality education, and cost-effectiveness when considering any expansion of the university sector.
In terms of their internationalization of higher education, for instance, the Singapore government reviewed its economic and educational structures in response to the 1997 Asian financial crisis and then launched the Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) initiative. The TSLN was a direct response to globalization, borrowed heavily from foreign models of teaching and learning, and was a retooling of the national education system to meet the needs of the global knowledge economy (Gopinathan, 2007).
In 2002, the Ministry of Trade and Industry sought to build on the WCUP aimed at attracting 10 elite foreign universities to Singapore within 10 years. It was hoped that the foreign universities would help transform Singapore into an innovation society. With this program, Singapore turned into an international education hub to capture a larger share of the global higher education market and increase education’s contribution to the GDP (Economic Review Committee, 2002). Thus, the Global Schoolhouse (GSH) Program became the overall policy framework for internationalization of higher education in Singapore.
The basic vision of GSH was to transform Singapore into an innovation society by: bringing in prestigious foreign universities; tripling the number of international students to 150,000; recruiting talented researchers capable of contributing to Singapore’s knowledge economy; encouraging more innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism among local students; improving the capacity and reputation of national universities; improving the private sector (Gopinathan, & Lee, 2011).
Given Singapore’s seemingly successful development of its higher education sector, GSH can be considered a great success, but there are still some setbacks. Several high profile universities have closed their operations in Singapore, such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, and New York University, etc. Singapore also failed to achieve its ambitious goal of 150,000 international students amidst considerable political resistance from citizens who felt foreigners were being prioritized over their own interests (Mok, 2016). Also, while Singapore has been successful in attracting talented researchers, it has had some trouble retaining them, due largely to the heavy pressure to produce research with immediate economic benefits (Sanders, 2019).
According to Lewis and Gelander (2009), good governance in education systems promotes effective delivery of education services.
Laws and regulations related to the aforementioned comparative study have been introduced and promulgated for universities to plan their operations, apply for funds, enhance their global competitiveness, etc. The information can be easily accessed on government websites for the stakeholders and the public to retrieve and scrutinize. Such practice can be regarded as good indicators of rule of law and transparency. Also, massification and privatization of higher education and learning best practices from world-class universities in the region have commonly been adopted to increase the number of higher learning opportunities and to elevate the excellence of their higher education. Those practices are also regarded as good indicators of effectiveness and accountability.
Although each state has implemented reforms in their higher education system, some countries face great challenges after reform. First of all, using such rankings as a rationale for developing world-class universities is widely criticized since rankings’ “one size fits all procedure” reduces the complexity into a simple formula. University quality is not necessarily being improved by pursing world-class university status. Subsequent to the higher education expansion, some negative outcomes also arose, such as the uneven distribution of resources to public and private universities, greater social divisions between public and elite institutions and private and non-elite institutions, unbalanced distribution of higher education resources between urban and rural areas, and surplus of university graduates in Taiwan and China. In addition, with the low birthrate, many universities in Taiwan are also estimated to be in danger of disappearing in the near future. Such outcomes brought on by the reform do not meet expectations of good governance in terms of the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability.
Overall, each government of the aforementioned countries exhibits the characteristics of good governance in terms of rule of laws, transparency, and effectiveness to some extent. Some countries may not meet the expectations of their people in terms of equity or accountability. As the forms of governance in the countries have been intertwining the traditionally “centralized and bureaucratic governance structure” with “market-driven and internationally benchmarking model,” governments are expected to continue developing their steering capacities in horizontal rather than hierarchical ways to conform to new democratic expectations from the public.
Each government should consult with stakeholders and exercise prudence in decision-making to ensure sustainable higher education development and progress in the greater China region in the future. They should consider the social context of their society in order to better cope with the unexpected results of previous reform such as possible university closure or merger, more university graduates than needed, balance between the quantitative development and qualitative improvement, etc.
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About the Author
Claire Y.H. Tao: Senior Regional Manager, Office of International Cooperation, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, R.O.C.; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org