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Education hubs and talent development: policymaking and implementation challenges

Abstract

The discourse on the internationalization of higher education emphasizes revenue generation while neglecting other diverse rationales pursued by governments and institutions. For countries that are seeking to venture into a knowledge economy or accrue greater competitive advantages under globalization, many policymakers view cross-border higher education as a platform for developing human talent. In this pursuit, education hubs stand out as large-scale initiatives supported by extensive planning and investment. By comparing the developments of Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong as education hubs, three distinct objectives are apparent: to develop local talent, to attract foreign talent, and to repatriate diasporic talent. Despite the attention directed at the recruitment of international students, developing local talent remains a fundamental goal among education hubs. Talent development includes manpower planning as well as more inclusive provisions that support the diverse interests among local students. On the other hand, education hubs do not share the goals of attracting foreign and repatriating diasporic talent. Contextual factors such as distinct political economies and ethnic sensitivities mediate the recruitment of external talent. Comparing the policy rhetoric of talent development against the realities of implementation reveals sharp misalignment in some cases. More importantly, the political inertia in Singapore and Hong Kong exerts a gravitational pull that is increasingly turning sentiments against some foreign talent.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Several other education hubs also exist in Malaysia but these are city-based and fairly new. Some of these hubs do not involve cross-border education. There is also a new plan to develop Malaysia into an Islamic finance education hub. The Kuala Lumpur Education City is no longer an active project according to senior government officials. For the sake of brevity and clarity, the paper will omit these hubs.

  2. 2.

    In 2005, the federal government asked its national investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, to conduct a feasibility study to develop South Johor as a special economic zone. This study produced the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) which identified the nine pillars of the economic zone (Khazanah, 2006).

  3. 3.

    Mainland Chinese students are considered “non-local” in Hong Kong just like other international students.

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Acknowledgments

This study was partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

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Correspondence to Jack T. Lee.

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Lee, J.T. Education hubs and talent development: policymaking and implementation challenges. High Educ 68, 807–823 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9745-x

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Keywords

  • Internationalization
  • Cross border education
  • Education hubs
  • Talent development
  • Human capital
  • Asia