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Asia called the 'next higher education superpower'

Updated: 2015-04-29 15:54
By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA)

Asian countries are investing heavily domestically in an attempt to become international hubs in higher education to compete with the United States and Europe, according to a new book released by the Institute of International Education.

"One of the biggest topics in US higher education today is the rise of Asia in many settings; when the conversation's about internationalization, there's always a reference to Asia," said Rajika Bhandari, deputy vice-president for research at the Institute of International Education (IIE).

"There's been a real recognition that Asia is a rising power in its own right in higher education," Bhandari said. She said there is a need to understand Asia better, "both in terms of what's happening in exchanges and what's happening in the different higher education systems".

China in particular has spent a lot of money on higher education, which provides it with a kind of stability that Western institutions don't have, said Joanna Regulska, vice-president of international affairs at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Regulska and Bhandari spoke at the book launch for Asia: The Next Higher Education Super Power?, which was released in late March. It was published by the IIE and the American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation.

The book was written by education scholars and policy experts on Asia's role in global education trends and how higher educational institutions can respond.

"With the advent of a large middle class and new openness driven by economic imperatives, Asia appears to be shifting into the world's center stage," the IIE said in a statement about the book. "National investments in international higher education have already contributed to a great prominence of Asian institutions in the global rankings as well as to dramatic increases in incoming and outgoing student mobility numbers."

China's students make up the highest percentage of international students in the US, and that number has tripled since 2005, according to IIE.

The IIE releases an annual report on the number of international students in US universities. Its 2014 figures show that there were 274,439 Chinese students in the US in the 2013-2014 school year, up 16.5 percent over the year before.

"Particularly among the undergraduates who are coming here, who represent the bigger share, the parents who are making the decision to send their kids to the United States are going to keep making that decision, because they're doing it for a set of reasons that China's own education system is not going to satisfy," Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor to the president at IIE, told China Daily on the sidelines of the panel discussion.

Blumenthal said that while the numbers of Chinese students attending US graduate schools are not as big as they used to be, the growth in the undergraduate population is booming. Chinese students are also coming at younger ages, she said, to US high schools and even middle schools.

"For many students in East Asia - non-English-speaking countries - learning the English language and being able to come here at a younger age is a big draw," as is learning the language and better positioning one's self for admission to a US college, Bhandari said.


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