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A farewell to internationalisation? Striking a balance between global ambition and local needs in higher education in Taiwan

Abstract

The literature suggests that recent years have witnessed a fundamental shift in higher education internationalisation. This paper argues that a reorientation of policy, which is upheld through an initiative known as the Higher Education Sprout Project, indicates the fundamental shift in higher education internationalisation in Taiwan. The paper begins with an explanation of how the notion of world-class university induced elitism in East Asian higher education. Next, it reviews the last two decades of Taiwan’s efforts on developing world-class universities. In particular, the paper explains how perceived domestic problems in higher education, such as an overemphasis on certain performance indicators and the resulting effects of homogenisation, and the phenomenon of emphasising research but neglecting teaching, are considered the consequences of emphasising global competition and the associated quest for building world-class universities. The paper argues that the recent policy change reveals an intention to uphold egalitarianism, thereby reaching a balance between fulfilling global ambition and addressing local needs in higher education. This intention highlights the political essence of internationalisation policy for higher education. It also reaffirms the significance of the global–local dynamics in higher education policy.

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Correspondence to William Yat Wai Lo.

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Lo, W., Hou, A.YC. A farewell to internationalisation? Striking a balance between global ambition and local needs in higher education in Taiwan. High Educ 80, 497–510 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-019-00495-0

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Keywords

  • Global–local dynamics
  • Internationalisation
  • World-class university
  • University social responsibility
  • Taiwan