Policy Briefs


​Massification, Globalisation and the Global Knowledge Economy

Policy challenges and opportunities for universities in Southeast Asia

More and more people are enrolled in higher education, in Southeast Asia and most parts of the world, than ever before. Mainland China alone produces 7.65 million graduates a year. At the same time, higher education has become more internationalised, as a response to the global knowledge economy.

The trends towards massification and internationalisation produce contradictions and dilemmas, which policymakers and higher education institutions must address. Policymakers and university leaders should be aware of potential pitfalls and missteps, when responding to these trends.

Two contradictory phenomena in higher education in Southeast Asia, and in much of the world, are emerging at the same time:

  • Higher education has been massified across much of Southeast Asia, moving from an elite phase to a phase of almost universal access in a number of countries.
  • The global knowledge economy has emerged, requiring research and innovation, and the internationalisation of universities.

How should Southeast Asian higher education institutions respond to this twofold phenomenon? This policy brief focuses on the role of universities, within the post-secondary education systems of countries. It is in universities that these contradictions are played out most starkly.

About this Policy Brief

An initial draft of this policy brief formed the basis of a policy forum, jointly organised by Institut Penyelidikan Pendidikan Tinggi Negara (IPPTN, or the National Higher Education Research Institute) and The HEAD Foundation, which was held in Penang on 5 August 2016 under Chatham House rules. Input from the policy forum participants have subsequently been integrated into this policy brief.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.