ASIA-PACIFIC: Higher education sees rapid change

Facing an unprecedented expansion, Asian centres of higher education are looking for ways to diversify opportunities for learning, concluded the Asia-Pacific Sub-regional Preparatory Conference for Unesco's 2009 World Conference on Higher Education held recently in Macao, China. The Asia-Pacific zone is the largest of the Unesco regions, containing over three billion people, or 60% of the world's population, writes Hye-Rim Kim for the Bangkok Post. Its diverse geography, population, income and culture are reflected in the size and types of higher education institutions operating in the region.

However, demand for higher education is rising nearly everywhere, regardless of income or culture. Growing affluence in the region and the increasing numbers of 18 to 23-year-olds are fuelling this demand - with the exception of Australia, Korea and Japan, because of the low birth rates in those countries. In China, recent growth in the numbers of higher education enrolments and institutions have been spectacular.

"The past decade has been a decade of higher education expansion in China. The gross enrolment ratio of higher education has increased from 9% in 1998 to 23% in 2007. Total enrolment has risen from 6.23 million to 27 million during this period," Dr Libing Wang, a professor at Zhejiang University, told the conference.
Full report on the Bangkok Post site